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Author of "Gloria," etc. 

From the Spanish by CLARA BELL 






Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1884 

BY William S. Gottsberger 

in the Office of the Librarian of Consrress, at Wasliington 


5^te66 of 



I TRUST that, before relating the important 
events of which I have been an eye-witness, I 
may be allowed to say a few words about my 
early life and to explain the singular accidents and 
circumstances which resulted in my being present 
at our great naval catastrophe. 

In speaking of my birth I cannot follow the 
example of most writers who narrate the facts of 
their own lives, and who begin by naming their 
ancestry — usually of noble rank, hidalgos at the 
very least, if not actually descended from some 
royal or imperial progenitor. I cannot grace my 
opening page with high-sounding names, for, ex- 
cepting my mother whom I remember for some 
few years, I know nothing of any of my fore- 
fathers, unless it be Adam from whom my descent 
would seem to be indisputable. In short, my his- 


tory began in much the same way as that of 
Pablos, the brigand of Segovia ; happily it pleased 
God that it should resemble it in no other particu- 

I was born at Cadiz in the notorious quarter 
" de la Viiia," which was not then, any more than 
at the present day, a good school of either morals 
or manners. My memory does not throw any 
light on the events of my infancy till I was six 
years old, and I remember that, only because I 
associate the idea of being six with an event I 
heard much talked about, the battle of Cape St. 
Vincent, which took place in 1797. 

Endeavoring to see myself as I was at that 
time, with the curiosity and interest which must 
attach to self-contemplation, I am aware of a dim 
and hazy little figure in the picture of past events, 
playing in the creek with other small boys of the 
same age, more or less. This was to me the whole 
of life — as it was, at any rate, to our privileged 
class ; those who did not live as I did appeared to 
me exceptional beings. In my childish ignorance 
of the world I firmly believed that man was made 
for the sea, Providence having created him to 
swim as being the noblest exercise of his limbs 
and body, and to dive for crabs as the highest use 
of his intelligence — and especially to fish up and 


sell the highly-esteemed crustacean known as 
Bocas de la Isla — as well as for his personal de- 
lectation and enjoyment, thus combining pleasure 
with profit. 

The society into which I was born was indeed 
of the roughest, as ignorant and squalid as can 
well be imagined ; so much so that the boys of 
our quarter of the town were regarded as even 
lower than those of the adjoining suburb of Pun- 
tales, whose occupations were the same and who 
defied the elements with equal devilry ; the result 
of this invidious distinction was that each party 
looked upon the other as rivals, and the opposing 
forces would meet from time to time for a pitched 
battle with stones, when the earth was stained 
with heroic blood. 

When I was old enough to begin to think that 
I might go into business on my own account, with 
a view to turning an honest penny, I remember 
that my sharpness stood me in good stead on the 
quay where I acted as valet de place to the 
numerous English who then, as now, disembarked 
there. The quay was a free academy peculiarly 
fitted to sharpen the wits and make the learner 
wide-awake, and I was not one of the least apt 
of its disciples in that wide branch of human ex- 
perience ; nor did I fail to distinguish myself in 


petty thefts, especially of fruit, an art for which 
the Plaza de San Juan offered an ample field, both 
for the experiments of the beginner and the ex- 
ploits of the adept. But I have no wish to enlarge 
on this part of my history, for I blush with shame 
now, as I remember the depth to which I had 
sunk, and I thank God for having released me 
from it at an early period, and directed me into a 
better path. 

Among the impressions which remain most 
vivid in my memory is the enthusiastic delight I 
felt at the sight of vessels of war, when they an- 
chored outside Cadiz or in the cove of San Fer- 
nando. As I had no means of satisfying my 
curiosity, when I saw these enormous structures I 
conceived the most absurd and fanciful ideas about 
them, imagining them as full of mysteries. 

Always eager to mimic the greater world 
around us, we boys too had our squadrons of little 
ships, roughly hewn in wood, with sails of paper 
or of rag, which we navigated with the greatest 
deliberation and gravity in the pools of Puntales 
or La Caleta. To make all complete, whenever a 
few coppers came into our hands, earned by one or 
another of our small industries, we bought powder 
of old " Aunt Coscoja " in the street " del Torno 
de Santa Maria," and with this we could have a 


grand naval display. Our fleets sailed before the 
wind in an ocean three yards across, fired off their 
cannon, came alongside of each other to mimic a 
hand-to-hand fight — in which the imaginary 
crews valiantly held their own, and swarmed into 
the tops unfurling the flag, made of any scrap of 
colored rag we could pick up in a dust-heap — 
while we danced with ecstasy on the shore at the 
popping of the artillery, imagining ourselves to be 
the nationalities represented by our respective 
standards, and almost believing that in the world 
of grown-up men and great events the nations too 
would leap for joy, looking on at the victories of 
their splendid fleets. Boys see things through 
strange windows. 

Those were times of great sea-fights, for there 
was one at least every year and a skirmish every 
month. I thought that fleets met in battle simply 
and solely because they enjoyed it, or to prove 
their strength and valor, like two bullies who meet 
outside the walls to stick knives into each other. 
I laugh when I recollect the wild ideas I had about 
the persons and events of the time. I heard a 
great deal about Napoleon and how do you think 
I had pictured him to myself! In every respect 
exactly like the smugglers whom we not unfre- 
quently saw in our low quarter of the town: 


Contrabandistas from the lines at Gibraltar. I 
fancied him a man on horseback, on a Xerez nag, 
with a cloak, high boots, a broad felt-hat, and a 
blunderbuss of course. With these accoutrements, 
and followed by other adventurers on the same 
pattern, I supposed this man, whom all agreed in 
describing as most extraordinary, to have con- 
quered Europe, which I fancied was a large island 
within which were other islands which were the 
different nations : England, Genoa, London, 
France, Malta, the land where the Moors lived, 
America, Gibraltar, Port Mahon, Russia, Toulon 
and so forth. This scheme of geography I had 
constructed on the basis of the names of the 
places from which the ships came whose passen- 
gers I had to deal with ; and I need not say that 
of all these nations or islands Spain was the very 
best, for which reason the English — men after the 
likeness of highwaymen — wanted to get it for 
their own. Talking of these and similar matters 
I and my amphibious companions would give 
vent to sentiments and opinions inspired by the 
most ardent patriotism. 

However, I need not weary the reader with 
trifles which relate only to my personal fancies, so 
I will say no more about myself The one living 
soul that made up to me for the wretchedness of 


life by a wholly disinterested love for me, was my 
mother. All I can remember of her is that 
she was extremely pretty, or at any rate she 
seemed so to me. From the time when she was 
left a widow she maintained herself and me by do- 
ing washing, and mending sailors' clothes. She 
must have loved me dearly. I fell ill of yellow 
fever which was raging in Andalusia and when I 
got well she took me solemnly to mass at the old 
cathedral and made me kneel on the pavement for 
more than an hour, and then, as an ex-voto offer- 
ing, she placed an image in wax of a child, which 
I believed to be an exact likeness of myself, at the 
foot of the altar where the service had been 

My mother had a brother, and if she was 
pretty, he was ugly and a cruel wretch into the 
bargain. I cannot think of my uncle without 
horror, and from one or two occurrences which I 
remember vividly I infer that this man must have 
committed some crime at the time I refer to. He 
was a sailor ; when he was on shore and at Cadiz 
he would come home furiously drunk, and treat us 
brutally — his sister with words, calling her every 
abusive name, and me with deeds, beating me 
without any reason whatever. 

My mother must have suffered greatly from 


her brother's atrocities, and these, added to severe 
labor for miserable pay, hastened her death which 
left an indelible impression on my feelings, 
though the details dwell but vaguely in my 
memory. During this period of misery and vaga- 
bondage my only occupations were playing by 
the sea-shore or running about the streets. My 
only troubles were a beating from my uncle, a frown 
from my mother, or some mishap in the con- 
duct of my squadrons. I had never felt any really 
strong or deep emotion till the loss of my mother 
showed me life under a harder and clearer aspect 
than it had ever before presented to me. The 
shock it gave me has never faded from my mind. 
After all these years I still remember, as we re- 
member the horrible pictures of a bad dream, that 
my mother lay prostrate from some sickness, I 
know not what ; I remember women coming and 
going, whose names and purpose I cannot recall ; 
I remember hearing cries of lamentation, and be- 
ing placed in my mother's arms, and then I re- 
member the shudder that ran through my 
whole body at the touch of a cold, cold hand. I 
think I was then taken away ; but mixed up with 
these dim memories I can see the yellow tapers 
which gave a ghastly light at mid-day, I can hear 
the muttering of prayers, the hoarse whispers of 


the old gossips, the laughter of drunken sailors — 
and then came the lonely sense of orphanhood, 
the certainty that I was alone and abandoned in 
the world, which for a time absorbed me en- 

I have no recollection of what my uncle was 
doing at that time ; I only know that his brutality 
to me increased to such a point that, weary of his 
cruelty, I ran away, determined to seek my fortune. 
I fled to San Fernando and from thence to Puerto 
Real. I hung on to the lowest class that haunt 
the shore, which has always been a famous nest 
for gaol-birds. Why or wherefore I quite forget, 
but I found myself with a gang of these choice 
spirits at Medinasidonia when, one day, a tavern 
where we were sitting was entered by a press- 
gang and we promptly separated, each hiding 
himself as best he might. My good star led me 
to a house where the owners had pity on me, tak- 
ing the greatest interest in me, no doubt by 
reason of the story I told, on my knees and 
drowned in tears, of my miserable plight, my 
past life and all my misfortunes. 

These good people took me under their pro- 
tection and saved me from the press-gang, and 
from that time I remained in their service. With 
them I went to Vejer de la Frontera where they 


lived ; they had only been passing through 

My guardian angels were Don Alonso Gutier- 
rez de Cisniega, a ship's captain, and his wife, both 
advanced in years. They taught me much that I 
did not know, and as they took a great fancy to 
me before long I was promoted to be Don Alonso's 
page, accompanying him in his daily walks, for 
the worthy veteran could not use his right arm, 
and it was with difficulty that he moved his right 
leg. What they saw in me to arouse their inter- 
est I do not know ; my tender years, my desolate 
circumstances and no doubt too my ready obedi- 
ence may hav^e contributed to win their benevo- 
lence, for which I have always been deeply grate- 
ful. I may also add — though I say it that should 
not — as explaining their kind feeling towards me, 
that although I had always lived among the low- 
est and most destitute class, I had a certain 
natural refinement of mind which enabled me 
very soon to improve in manners, and in a few 
years, notwithstanding I had no opportunities for 
learning, I could pass for a lad of respectable birth 
and training. 

I had spent four years in this home when the 
events happened which I must now relate. The 
reader must not expect an accuracy of detail 


which is out of my power when speaking of events 
which happened in my tender youth, to be 
recalled in the evening of my existence when I 
am near the end of a long and busy life and al- 
ready feel the slow poison of old age numbing the 
fingers that use the pen ; while the torpid brain 
strives to cheat itself into transient return of 
youth, by conjuring up the sweet or ardent 
memories of the past. As some old men strive to 
revive the warm delights of the past by gazing at 
pictures of the beauties they have known, I will try 
to give some interest and vigor to the faded 
reminiscences of my long past days, and to warm 
them with the glow of a counterfeit presentment of 
departed glories. 

The effect is magical ! How marvellous are 
the illusions of fancy ! I look back with curiosity 
and astonishment at the bygone years, as we look 
through the pages of a book we were reading, and 
left with a leaf turned down to mark the place ; 
and so long as the charm works I feel as if some 
beneficent genius had suddenly relieved me of the 
weight of old age, mitigating the burden of years 
which crushes body and spirit alike. This blood 
— this tepid and languid ichor, which now scarcely 
lends warmth and life to my failing limbs, grows 
hot again, flows, boils, and fires my veins with a 


swifter course. A sudden light breaks in upon 
my brain, giving color and relief to numberless 
strange figures — just as the traveller's torch, blaz- 
ing in some dark cavern, reveals the marvels of 
geology so unexpectedly that it seems as though 
they were then and there created. And my heart 
rises from the grave of past emotions — a Lazarus 
called by the voice of its Lord — and leaps in my 
breast with joy and pain at once. 

I am young again ; time has turned backwards, 
I stand in the presence of the events of my boy- 
hood ; I clasp the hands of old friends, the joys 
and griefs of my youth stir my soul once more — 
the fever of triumph, the anguish of defeat, intense 
delights, acute sorrows — all crowded and mixed 
in my memory as they were in life. But stronger 
than any other feeling one reigns supreme, one 
which guided all my actions during the fateful 
period between 1805 and 1834. As I approach 
the grave and reflect how useless I am among 
men — even now tears start to my eyes with the 
sacred love of country. I can only serve it with 
words — cursing the base scepticism which can 
deny it, and the corrupt philosophy which can treat 
it as a mere fashion of a day. 

This was the passion to which I consecrated 
the vigor of my manhood, and to this I will de- 


vote the labors of my last years, enthroning it as 
the tutelary genius, the guiding spirit of my story 
as it has been of my existence. I have much to 
tell. Trafalgar, Bailen, Madrid, Zaragoza, Gerona, 
Arapiles! — I can tell you something of all these, 
if your patience does not fail. My story may not 
be as elegantly told as it should be but I will do 
my best to insure its being true. 



It was on one of the early days of October in 
that fatal year, 1805, that my worthy master called 
me into his room and looked at me with the se- 
verity that was habitual to him — a severity that 
was only on the surface for his nature was gentle- 
ness itself — he said : 

" Gabriel, are you a brave man ?" 

I did not know what to answer, for, to tell the 
truth, in my fourteen years of life no opportunity 
had ever presented itself for me to astonish the 
world with any deed of valor ; still, it filled me 
with pride to hear myself called a man, and think- 
ing it ill-judged to deny myself the credit of cour- 
age before any one who held it in such high 
estimation, I answered, with boyish boldness : 

" Yes, sir, I am a brave man." 

' *■ this the noble gentleman, who had shed his 
. .^i in a hundred glorious fights and who never- 
theless did not disdain to treat a faithful servant 
with frank confidence, smiled at me kindly, signed 
to me to take a seat, and seemed on the point of 
informing me of some business of importance, 


when his wife, my mistress, Doiia Francisca en- 
tered the study, and, to give further interest to the 
discussion, began to declaim with vehemence. 

"You are not to go," she said, " I declare you 
shall not join the fleet. What next will you be 
wanting to do ? — at your age and when you have 
long retired as superannuated ! No, no, Alonso 
my dear. You are past sixty and your dancing 
days are over." 

I can see her now, that respectable and indig- 
nant dame — with her deep-bordered cap, her 
muslin dress, her white curls, and a hairy mole on 
one side of her chin. I describe these miscel- 
laneous details, for they are inseparable from my 
recollection of her. She was pretty even in old age, 
like Murillo's Santa Anna, and her sober beauty 
would have justified the comparison if only the 
lady had been as silent as a picture. Don Alonso 
somewhat cowed, as he always was, by her flow of 
words, answered quietly : 

" I must go, Paquita. From the letter I have 
just now received from my worthy friend Churruca, 
I learn that the united squadrons are either to sail 
from Cadiz and engage the English or to wait for 
them in the bay in case they are so bold as to en- 
ter. In either case it will be no child's play." 

"That is well, and I am glad to hear it," re- 


plied Dona Francisca. "There are Gravina, Val- 
des, Cisneros, Churruca, Alcala Galiano, and 
Alava ; let them pound away at the Enghsh dogs. 
But you are a piece of useless lumber who can do 
no good if you go. Why you cannot move that 
left arm which they dislocated for you at Cape 
St. Vincent." 

My master lifted his arm, with a stiff attempt 
at military precision, to show that he could use it. 
But his wife, not convinced by so feeble an argu- 
ment, went on with shrill asseveration. 

" No, you shall not go, what can they want of 
a piece of antiquity like you. If you were still 
forty as you were when you went to Tierra del 
Fuego and brought me back those green Indian 
necklaces. — Then indeed ! But now ! — I know, 
that ridiculous fellow Marcial fired your brain this 
morning with talking to you about battles. It 
seems to me that Senor Marcial and I will come 
to quarrelling. — Let him go to the ships if he 
likes and pay them out for the foot he lost ! Oh ! 
Saint Joseph the blessed ! If I had known when I 
was a girl what you sea-men were ! Endless 
worry ; never a day's peace ! A woman marries to 
live with her husband and one fine day a dispatch 
comes from Madrid and he is sent off at two 
minutes notice to the Lord knows where — Fata- 


gonia or Japan or the infernal reg-ions. For ten or 
twelve months she sees nothing of liim and at last, 
if the savages have not eaten him meanwhile, he 
comes back again the picture of misery — so ill 
and yellow that she does not know what to do to 
restore him to his right color. But old birds are 
not to be caught in a trap, and then suddenly an- 
other dispatch comes from Madrid, with orders to 
go to Toulon or Brest or Naples — go here and go 
there — wherever it is necessary to meet the whims 
of that rascally First Consul. . . . ! If you would 
all do as I say, you would soon payout these gen- 
tlemen who keep the world in a turmoil ! " 

My master sat smiling and gazing at a cheap 
print, badly colored by some cheap artist, which 
was nailed against the wall, and which represented 
the Emperor Napoleon mounted on a green 
charger, in the celebrated " redingote" which was 
smeared with vermilion. It was no doubt the sight 
of this work of art, which I had seen daily for four 
years, which had modified my ideas with respect 
to the smuggler's costume of the great man of the 
day, and had fixed his image in my mind as 
dressed something like a cardinal and riding a 
green horse. 

" This is not living !" Dona Francisca went on, 
throwing up her arms; " God forgive me, but I 


hate the sea, though they say it is one of His most 
glorious works. What is the use of the Holy In- 
quisition, will you tell me, if it is not to burn 
those diabolical ships of war to ashes? What is 
the good of this incessant firing of cannon, — balls 
upon balls, all directed against four boards, as you 
may say, which are soon smashed to leave hun- 
dreds of hapless wretches to drown in the sea ? Is 
not that provoking God ? — And yet you men are 
half- wild as soon as you hear a cannon fired ! 
Merciful Heaven ! my flesh creeps at the sound, 
and if every one was of my way of thinking, we 
should have no more sea-fights, and the cannon 
would be cast into bells. Look here, Alonso," she 
said, standing still in front of her husband, " it 
seems to me that they have done you damage 
enough already; what more do you want? You 
and a parcel of madmen like yourself, — had you 
not enough to satisfy you on the 14th ?"* 

Don Alonso clenched his fists at this bitter 
reminiscence, and it was only out of consideration 
for his wife, to whom he paid the utmost respect, 
that he suppressed a good round oath. 

" I lay all the blame of your absurd deter- 
mination to join the fleet to that rascally Marcial," 

* The battle of Cape St. Vincent was fought on February 14, 1797. 


the lady went on, warming with her own elo- 
quence ; " that maniac for the sea who ought to 
have been drowned a hundred times and over, but 
that he escaped a hundred times to be the torment 
of my life. If he wants to join, with his wooden 
leg, his broken arm, his one eye, and his fifty 
wounds — let him go, by all means, and God grant 
he may never come back here again — but you 
shall not go, Alonso, for you are past service and 
have done enough for the King who has paid you 
badly enough in all conscience. If I were you, I 
would throw those captain's epaulettes you have 
worn these ten years in the face of the Generalis- 
simo of the land and sea forces. My word ! they 
ought have made you admiral, at least ; you 
earned that when you went on that expedition to 
Africa and brought me back those blue beads 
which I gave with the Indian necklace to 
decorate the votive urn to the Virgin ' del 
Carmen.' " 

"Admiral or not, it is my duty to join the 
fleet, Paquita," said my master. " I cannot be 
absent from this struggle. I feel that I must pay 
oft' some of my arrears to the English." 

" Do you talk of paying oft" arrears ! " ex- 
claimed my mistress; "you — old, feeble, and half- 
crippled ..." 


" Gabriel will go with me," said Don Alonso, 
with a look at me which filled me with valor. 

I bowed to signify that I agreed to this heroic 
scheme, but I took care not to be seen by my 
mistress, who would have let me feel the full 
weight of her hand if she had suspected my belli- 
cose inclinations. Indeed, seeing that her hus- 
band was fully determined, she was more furious 
than ever, declaring that if she had to live her 
life again nothing should induce her to marry a 
sailor. She cursed the Emperor, abused our re- 
vered King, the Prince of Peace, and all those who 
had signed the Treaty of Subsidies, ending by 
threatening the brave old man with punishment 
from Heaven for his insane rashness. 

During this dialogue, which I have reported 
with approximate exactness as I have to depend 
on my memory, a loud barking cough in the ad- 
joining room revealed the fact that Marcial, the 
old sailor, could overhear with perfect ease, my 
mistress's vehement harangue, in which she had so 
frequently mentioned him in by no means flatter- 
ing terms. Being now desirous of taking part in 
the converstion, as his intimacy in the house fully 
justified his doing, he opened the door and came 
into Don Alfonso's room. Before going any 
farther I must give some account of my master's 


former history, and of his worthy wife, that the 
reader may have a better understanding of what 



Don Alfonso Gutierrez de Cisniega be- 
longed to an old family of Vejer, where he lived. 
He had been devoted at an early age to a naval 
career and, while still quite young, had distin- 
guished himself in defending Havana against the 
English in 1748. He was afterwards engaged in 
the expedition which sailed from Cartagena against 
the Algerines in 1775, and was present at the at- 
tack upon Gibraltar under the Duke de Crillon in 
1782. He subsequently joined the expedition to 
the Straits of Magellan in the corvette Santa 
Maria de la Cabeza, commanded by Don Antonio 
de Cordova, and fought in the glorious engage- 
ments between the Anglo-Spanish fleet and the 
French before Toulon in 1793, terminating his 
career of glory at the disastrous battle of Cape St. 
Vincent, where he commanded the Mejicano, one 
of the ships which were forced to surrender. 

From that time my master, whose promotion 
had been slower than his laborious and varied 
career had merited, retired from active service. 
He suffered much in body from the wounds he 


had received on that fatal day, and more in mind 
from the blow of such a defeat. His wife nursed 
and tended him with devotion though not in 
silence, for abuse of the navy and of seamen of 
every degree were as common in her mouth as 
the names of the saints in that of a bigot. 

Dona Francisca was an excellent woman, of 
exemplary conduct and noble birth, devout and 
God-fearing — as all women were in those days, 
charitable and judicious, but with the most violent 
and diabolical temper I ever met with in the 
whole course of my life. Frankly I do not 
believe that this excessive irritability was natural 
to her, but the result and outcome of the worries 
in her life arising out of her husband's much-hated 
profession ; it must be confessed that she did not 
complain wholly without reason, and every day 
of her life Doiia Francisca addressed her prayers 
to Heaven for the annihilation of every fleet in 
Europe. This worthy couple had but one child, 
a daughter — the incomparable Rosita, of whom 
more anon. 

The veteran, however, pined sadly at Vejer, 
seeing his laurels covered with dust and gnawed 
to powder by the rats, and all his thoughts and 
most of his discourse, morning, noon, and night, 
were based on the absorbing theme that if Cor- 


dova, the commander of the Spanish fleet, had 
only given the word " Starboard" instead of 
" Port" the good ships Mejicano, San Jose, San 
Nicolas and San Isidro would never have fallen 
into the hands of the English, and Admiral Jervis 
would have been defeated. His wife, Marcial, and 
even I myself, exceeding the limits of my duties — 
always assured him that there was no doubt of 
the fact, to see whether, if we acknowledged our- 
selves convinced, his vehemence would moderate — 
but no ; his mania on that point only died with 

Eight years had passed since that disaster, and 
the intelligence that the whole united fleet was to 
fight a decisive battle with the P^nglish had now 
roused my master to a feverish enthusiasm which 
seemed to have renewed his youth. He pictured 
to himself the^ inevitable rout of his mortal ene- 
mies ; and although his wife tried to dissuade 
him, as has been said, it was impossible to divert 
him from his wild purpose. To prove how ob- 
stinate his determination was it is enough to men- 
tion that he dared to oppose his wife's strong will, 
though he avoided all discussion ; and to give an 
adequate idea of all that his opposition implied I 
ought to mention that Don Alonso was afraid of 
no mortal thing or creature — neither of the Eng- 


lish, the French, nor the savages of Magellan, not 
of the angry sea, nor of the monsters of the deep, 
nor of the raging tempest, nor of anything in the 
earth or sky — but only of his wife. 

The last person I must mention is Marcial the 
sailor, the object of Dona Francisca's deepest 
aversion, though Don Alonso, under whom he had 
served, loved him as a brother. 

Marcial — no one knew his other name — called 
by all the sailors " the Half a Man," had been 
boatswain on various men-of-war for forty years. 
At the time when my story begins this maritime 
hero's appearance was the strangest you can im- 
agine. Picture to yourself an old man, tall rather 
than short, with a wooden leg, his left arm 
shortened to within a few inches of the elbow, 
minus an eye, and his face seamed with wounds 
in every direction — slashed by the various 
arms of the enemy ; with his skin tanned brown, 
like that of all sea-faring men, and a voice so 
hoarse, hollow and slow, that it did not seem to 
belong to any rational human creature, and you 
have some idea of this eccentric personage. As 
I think of him I regret the narrow limits of my 
palette, for he deserves painting in more vivid 
colors and by a worthier artist. It was hard to 
say whether his appearance was most calculated 


to excite laughter or command respect — both at 
once I think, and according to the point of view 
you might adopt. 

His life might be said to be an epitome of the 
naval history of Spain during the last years of the 
past century and the beginning of this — a history 
in whose pages the most splendid victories alter- 
nate with the most disastrous defeats. Marcial 
had served on board the Conde de Regla, the San 
Joaquin, the Real Carlos, the Trinidad and other 
glorious but unfortunate vessels which, whether 
honorably defeated or perfidiously destroyed, car- 
ried with them to a watery grave the naval power 
of Spain. Besides the expeditions in which my 
master had taken part Marcial had been present 
at many others, such as that of Martinica, the 
action of Cape Finisterre, and before that the 
terrible battle close to Algeciras in July, 1801, 
and that off Cape Santa Maria on the 5th of Oc- 
tober, 1804. He quitted the service at sixty-six 
years of age, not however for lack of spirit but 
because he was altogether " unmasted " and past 
fighting. On shore he and my master were the 
best of friends, and as the boatswain's only daugh- 
ter was married to one of the servants of the 
house, of which union a small child was the token, 
Marcial had made up his mind to cast anchor for 


good, like a hulk past service, and even succeeded 
in making himself believe that peace was a good 
thing. Only to see him you would have thought 
that the most difficult task that could be set to 
this grand relic of a hero was that of minding 
babies ; but, as a matter of fact, Marcial had no 
other occupation in life than carrying and amusing 
his grandchild, putting it to sleep with his snatches 
of sea-songs, seasoned with an oath or two — ex- 
cusable under the circumstances. 

But no sooner had he heard that the united 
fleets were making ready for a decisive battle than 
his moribund fires rose from their ashes, and he 
dreamed that he was calling up the crew in the 
forecastle of the Santisima Trinidad. Discover- 
ing in Don Alfonso similar symptoms of rejuve- 
nescence, he confessed to him, and from that hour 
they spent the chief part of the day and night in 
discussing the news that arrived and their own 
feelings in the matter; " fighting their battles o'er 
again," hazarding conjectures as to those to be 
fought in the immediate future, and talking over 
their day-dreams like two ship's boys indulging 
in secret visions of the shortest road to the title 
of Admiral. 

In the course of these tete-a-tete meetings, 
which occasioned the greatest alarm to Dona 


Francisca, the plan was hatched for setting out to 
joui the fleet and be present at the impending 
battle. I have already told the reader what my 
mistress's opinion was and all the abuse she lav- 
ished on the insidious sailor ; he knows too that 
Don Alonso persisted in his determination to 
carry out his rash purpose, accompanied by me, 
his trusty page, and I must now proceed to relate 
what occurred when Marcial himself appeared on 
the scene to take up the cudgels for war against 
the shameful stains quo of Dona Francisca. 



" Senor Marcial," she began, with increased 
indignation, " if you choose to go to sea again and 
lose your other hand, you can go if you Hke ; but 
my husband here, shall not." 

" Very good," said the sailor who had seated 
himself on the edge of a chair, occupying no more 
space on it than was necessary to save himself 
from falling : " I will go alone. But the devil 
may take me if I can rest without looking on at 
the fun ! " 

Then he went on triumphantly : " We have 
fifteen ships and the French twenty smaller 
vessels. If they were all ours we should not want 
so many. Forty ships and plenty of brave hearts 
on board !" 

Just as the spark creeps from one piece of tim- 
ber to the next, the enthusiasm that fired Marcial's 
one eye lighted up both my master's, though 
dimmed by age. " But the Scfiorito " (Lord Nel- 
son), added the sailor, " will bring up a great 
many men too. That is the sort of performance 
I enjoy : plenty of timbers to fire at, and plenty 


of gunpowder-smoke to warm the air when it is 

I forgot to mention that Marcial, Hke most 
sailors, used a vocabulary of the most wonderful 
and mongrel character, for it seems to be a habit 
among seamen of every nation to disfigure their 
mother tongue to the verge of caricature. By 
examining the nautical terms used by sailors we 
perceive that most of them are corruptions of 
more usual terms, modified to suit their eager and 
hasty temperament trained by circumstances to 
abridge all the functions of existence and particu- 
larly speech. Hearing them talk it has sometimes 
occurred to me that sailors find the tongue an or- 
gan that they would gladly dispense with. 

Marcial, for instance, turned verbs into nouns 
and nouns into verbs without consulting the au- 
thorities. He applied nautical terms to every 
action and movement, and identified the ideas of 
a man and a ship, fancying that there was some 
analogy between their limbs and parts. He would 
say in speaking of the loss of his eye that his 
larboard port-hole was closed, and explained the 
amputation of his arm by saying that he had been 
left minus his starboard cat-head. His heart he 
called his courage-hold and his stomach his bread- 
basket. These terms sailors at any rate could 


understand ; but he had others, the ofTspring of 
his own inventive genius of which he alone under- 
stood the meaning or could appreciate the force. 
He had words of his own coining for doubting a 
statement, for feehng sad ; getting drunk he ahvays 
called " putting on your coat" among a number 
of other fantastical idioms ; and the derivation of 
this particular phrase will never occur to my 
readers without my explaining to them that the 
English sailors had acquired among the Spaniards 
the nickname of " great-coats," so that when he 
called getting drunk "putting your coat on" a 
recondite allusion was implied to the favorite vice 
of the enemy. He had the most extraordinary 
nicknames for foreign admirals ; Nelson he called 
the Senorito, implying a certain amount of respect 
for him ; Collingwood was Rio Calanibre, (Uncle 
Cramp) which he believed to be an equivalent for 
the English name; Jervis he called — as the English 
did too — The old Fox ; Calder was known as Rio 
Perol (Uncle Boiler) from an association of the 
name Calder with caldera, a kettle, and by an 
entirely different process he dubbed Villeneuvc, 
the Admiral of the united fleets, with the name of 
Monsieur Corncta, borrowed from some play he 
had once seen acted at Madrid. In fact, when 
reporting the conversations I can recall, I must 


perforce translate his wonderful phraseology into 
more ordinary language, to avoid going into long 
and tiresome explanations. 

To proceed, Doiia Francisca, devoutly crossing 
herself, answered angrily : 

" Forty ships ! Good Heavens ! it is tempting 
Providence ; and there will be at least forty thou- 
sand guns for the enemies to kill each other." 

" Ah ! but Monsieur Corneta keeps the cou- 
rage-hold well filled !" exclaimed Marcial, striking 
his breast. "We shall laugh at the great-coats 
this time. It will not be Cape St. Vincent over 

" And you must not forget," added my master 
eagerly recurring to his favorite hobby, " that if 
Admiral Cordova had only ordered the San Jose 
and the Mejicano to tack to port. Captain Jervis 
would not now be rejoicing in the title of Earl St. 
Vincent. Of that you may be very certain, and 
I liave ample evidence to show that if we had 
gone to port the day would have been ours." 

" Ours !" exclaimed Doiia Francisca scornfully. 
" As if you could have done more. To hear these 
fire-eaters it would seem as if they wanted to con- 
quer the world, and as to going to sea — it appears 
that their shoulders are not broad enough to bear 
the blows of the English." 


"No," said Marcial resolutely and clenching 
his fist defiantly. " If it were not for their cunning- 
and knavery. . . . ! We got out against them with 
a bold front, defying them like men, with our flag 
hoisted and clean hands. The English never sail 
wide, they always steal up and surprise us, choos- 
ing heavy seas and stormy weather. That is how 
it was at the Straits, when we were made to pay 
so dearly. We were sailing on quite confidingly, 
for no one expected to be trapped even by a here- 
tic dog of a Moor, much less by an Englishman 
who does the polite thing in a Christian fashion. — 
But no, an enemy who sneaks up to fight is not a 
Christian — he is a highwayman. Well now, just 
fancy, senora," and he turned to Doiia Francisca 
to engage her attention and good-will, " we were 
going out of Cadiz to help the French fleet which 
was driven into Algeciras by the English. — It is 
four years ago now, and to this day it makes me 
so angry that my blood boils as I think of it. I 
was on board the Real Carlos, 112 guns, com- 
manded by Ezguerra, and we had with us the Sajt 
Hermenegildo, 112 guns too, the San Fernando^ 
the Argondiita, the San Agustin, and the frigate 
Sabma. We v/ere joined by the French squadron 
of four men-of war, three frigates and a brigan- 
tine, and all sailed out of Algeciras for Cadiz at 



twelve o'clock at noon ; and as the wind was slack 
when night fell we were close under Punta Carnero. 
The night was blacker than a barrel of pitch, but 
the weather was fine so we could hold on our way 
in spite of the darkness. Most of the crew were 
asleep ; I remember, I was sitting in the fo'castle 
talking to the mate, Pepe Debora, who was telling 
me all the dog's tricks his mother-in-law had 
played him, and alongside we could see the lights 
of the San Hcnncjicgildo, v/hich was sailing at a 
gun-shot to starboard. The other ships were ahead 
of us. For the very last thing we any of us thought 
of was that the 'great-coats' had slipped out of 
Gibraltar and Avere giving chase — and how the 
devil should we, when they had doused all their 
lights and were stealing up to us without our 
guessing it ? Suddenly, for all that the night was 
so dark, I fancied I saw something — I always had 
a port-light like a lynx — I fancied a ship was 
standing between us and the San Hermenegildo. 
'Jose Debora,' says I, 'either I saw a ghost or 
there is an Englishman to starboard ?' Jose De- 
bora looks himself, and then he says : ' May the 
main-mast go by the board,' says he, 'if there is 
e'er a ship to starboard but the San Hermenegildo.' 
'Well,' says I, 'whether or no I am going to tell 
the officer of the watch.' 


" Well hardly were the words out of my mouth 
when, rub-a-dub ! we heard the tune of a whole 
broadside that came rattling against our ribs. The 
crew were on deck in a minute, and each man at 
his post. That was a rumpus, senora ! I wish you 
could have been there, just to have an idea of how 
these things are managed. We were all swearing 
like demons and at the same time praying the 
Lord to give us a gun at the end of every finger to 
fight them with. Ezguerra gave the word to re- 
turn their broadside. — Thunder and lightning! 
They fired again, and in a minute or two we re- 
sponded. But in the midst of all the noise and 
confusion we discovered that with their first broad- 
side they had sent one of those infernal combusti- 
bles (but he called it 'comestibles') on board 
W'hich fall on the deck as if it were raining fire. 
When we saw our ship was burning we fought like 
madmen and fired off broadside after broadside. 
Ah ! Doiia Francisca, it was hot work I can tell 
you! — Then our captain took us alongside of the 
enemy's ship that v/e might board her. I wish 
you could have seen it ! I was in my glory then ; 
in an instant we had our axes and boarding-pikes 
out, the enemy was coming down upon us and my 
heart jumped for joy to see it, for this was the 
quickest way of settling accounts. On we go, 

3 * 


right into her! — Day was just beginning to dawn, 
the yards were touching, and the boarding parties 
ready at the gangways when we heard Spanish 
oaths on board the foe. We all stood dumb with 
horror, for we found that the ship we had been 
fighting with was the Sati Herniencgildo herself" 

" That was a pretty state of things," said Dona 
Francisca roused to some interest in the narrative. 
" And how had you been such asses — with not a 
pin to choose between you ?" 

" I will tell you. We had no time for expla- 
nations then. The flames on our ship went over to 
the San Herniencgildo and then, Blessed Virgin! 
what a scene of confusion. 'To the boats!' was 
the cry. The fire caught the Santa Barbara and 
her ladyship blew up with loud explosion. — We 
were all swearing, shouting, blaspheming God and 
the Virgin and all the Saints, for that seems the 
only way to avoid choking when you are primed 
to fight, up to the very muzzle ..." 

" Merciful Heavens how shocking !" cried my 
mistress. " And you escaped ?" 

" Forty of us got off in the launch and six or 
seven in the gig, these took up the second officer 
of the San Hermenegildo. Jose Debora clung to a 
piece of plank and came to shore at Morocco, 
more dead than alive." 


" And the rest ?" 

"The rest — the sea was wide enough to hold 
them all. Two thousand men went down to 
Davy Jones that day, and among them our cap- 
tain, Ezguerra, and Emparan, the captain of the 
other ship." 

" Lord have mercy on them!" ejaculated Dona 
Francisca. "Though God knows! they were but 
ill-employed to be snatched away to judgment. 
If they had stayed quietly at home, as God re- 
quires ..." 

" The cause of that disaster," said Don Alonso, 
who delighted in getting his wife to listen to these 
dramatic narratives, "was this: The English em- 
boldened by the darkness arranged that the Su- 
perb, the lightest of their vessels, should extinguish 
her lights and slip through between our two finest 
ships. Having done this, she fired both her 
broadsides and then put about as quickly as pos- 
sible to escape the struggle that ensued. The 
two men-of-war, finding themselves unexpectedly 
attacked, returned fire and thus went on battering 
each other till dawn, when, just as they were 
about to board, they recognized each other and 
the end came as Marcial has told you in de- 

" Ah ! and they played the game well," cried 


the lady. " It was well done though it was a 
mean trick !" 

" What would you have ?" added Marcial. " I 
never loved them much; but since that night ! . . . 
If tJiey are in Heaven I do not Avant ever to go 
there. Sooner would I be damned to all eternity ! " 

** Well — and then the taking of the four frig- 
ates which were coming from Rio de la Plata?" 
asked Don Alfonso, to incite the old sailor to go 
on with his stories. 

"Aye — I was at that too," said Marcial. 
" And that was where I left my leg. That time 
too they took us unawares, and as it was in time 
of peace we were sailing on quietly enough, only 
counting the hours till we should be in port, when 
suddenly 1 will tell you exactly how it all hap- 
pened, Dona Francisca, that you may just un- 
derstand the ways of those people. After the 
engagement at the Straits I embarked on board 
the Fama for Montevideo, and we had been out 
there a long time when the Admiral of the squa- 
dron received orders to convoy treasure from 
Lima and Buenos Ayres to Spain. The voyage 
Avas a good one and we had no mishaps but a few 
slight cases of fever which only killed off a few of 
our men. Our freight was heavy — gold belonging 
to the king and to private persons, and we also 


had on board what we called the ' wages chest ' — 
savings off the pay of the troops serving in Amer- 
ica. Altogether, if I am not much mistaken, a 
matter of fifty millions or so of pesos, as if it were 
a mere nothing; and besides that, wolf-hides, 
vicuna wool, cascarilla, pigs of tin and copper, 
and cabinet woods. Well, sir, after sailing for 
fifty days we sighted land on the 5 th of October, 
and reckoned on getting into Cadiz the next day 
when, bearing down from the northeast, what 
should we see but four frigates. Although, as I 
said, it was in time of peace, and though our cap- 
tain, Don Miguel de Zapiain, did not seem to have 
any suspicion of evil, I — being an old sea-dog — 
called Debora and said to him that there was 
powder in the air, I could smell it. Well, when 
the English frigates were pretty near, we cleared 
the decks for action ; the Faina went forward and 
we were soon within a cable's length of one of the 
English ships which lay to windward. 

" The English captain hailed us through his 
speaking-trumpet and told us — there is nothing 
like plain-speaking — told us to prepare to defend 
ourselves, as he was going to attack. He asked 
a string of questions, but all he got out of us was 
that we should not take the trouble to answer 
him. Meanwhile the other three frigates had 


come up and had formed in such order that each 
Englishman had a Spaniard to the leeward of 

" They could not have taken up a better posi- 
tion," said my master. 

"So say I," replied Marcial. "The comman- 
der of our squadron, Don Jose Bustamante, was 
not very prompt ; if I had been in his shoes. . . . 
Well, senor, the English commodore sent a little 
whipper-snapper officer, in a swallow-tail coat, on 
board the Medea, who wasted no time in trifling 
but said at once that though war had not been 
declared, the commodore had orders to take us. 
That is what it is to be English ! Well, we en- 
gaged at once ; our frigate received the first 
broadside in her port quarter ; we politely re- 
turned the salute, and the cannonade was brisk 
on both sides — the long and the short of it is 
that we could do nothing with the heretics, for 
the devil was on their side ; they set fire to the 
Santa Barbara which blew up with a roar, and 
we were all so crushed by this and felt so cowed 
• — not for want of courage, seiior, but what they 
call demoralized — well, from the first we knew 
we were lost. There were more holes in our 
ship's sails than in an old cloak ; our rigging was 
damaged, we had five feet of water in the hold, 


our mizzen-mast was split, we had three shots 
in the side only just above the water line and 
many dead and wounded. Notwithstanding all 
this we went on, give and talce, with the English, 
but when we saw that the Medea and the Clara 
were unable to fight any longer and struck their 
colors we made all sail and retired, defending 
ourselves as best we could. The cursed English- 
man gave chase, and as her sails were in better 
order than ours we could not escape and we had 
nothing for it but to haul our colors down at 
about three in the afternoon, when a great many 
men had been killed and I myself was lying half- 
dead on the deck, for a ball had gone out of its 

way to take my leg off. Those d d wretches 

carried us off to England, not as prisoners, but as 
detenus; however, with despatches on one side 
and despatches on the other, from London to 
Madrid and back again, the end of it was that 
they stuck for want of money ; and, so far as I was 
concerned, another leg might have grown by the 
time the King of Spain sent them such a trifle as 
those five millions o{ pesos." 

" Poor man ! — and it was then you lost your 
leg?" asked Doiia Francisca compassionately. 

" Yes, senora, the English, knowing that I was 
no dancer, thought one was as much as I could 


want. In return they took good care of me. I 
was six months in a town they called Pliiinmf 
(Plymouth) lying in my bunk with my paw tied 
up and a passport for the next world in my 
pocket. — However, God A'mighty did not mean 
that I should make a hole in the water so soon ; 
an English doctor made me this wooden leg, 
which is better than the other now, for the other 

aches with that d d rheumatism and this one^ 

thank God, never aches even when it is hit by a 
round of small shot. As to toughness, I believe 
it would stand anything, though, to be sure, I 
have never since faced English fire to test it." 

" You are a brave fellow," said my mistress. 
" Please God you may not lose the other. But 
those who seek danger ..." 

And so, Marcial's story being ended, the dis- 
pute broke out anew as to whether or no my 
master should set out to join tlie squadron. Dona 
Francisca persisted in her negative, and Don 
Alonso, who in his wife's presence was as meek 
as a lamb, sought pretexts and brought forward 
every kind of reason to convince her. 

" Well we shall go to look on, wife, — simply- 
and merely to look on" — said the hero in a tone 
of entreaty. 

" Let us have done v/ith sight-seeing," an- 


swered his wife. "A pretty pair of lookers-on 
you two would make !" 

"The united squadrons," added Marcial, "will 
remain in Cadiz — and they will try to force the 

" Well then," said my mistress, " you can see 
the whole performance from within the walls of 
Cadiz, but as for going out in the ships — I say 
no, and I mean no, Alonso. During forty years 
of married life you have never seen me angry (he 
saw it every day) — but if you join the squadron 
I swear to you .... remember, Paquita lives only 
for you !" 

" Wife, wife — " cried my master much dis- 
turbed : "Do you mean I am to die without having 
had that satisfaction ?" 

"A nice sort of satisfaction truly! to look on 
at mad men killing each other ! If the King of 
Spain would only listen to me, I would pack off 
these English and say to them : ' My beloved 
subjects were not made to amuse you. Set to 
and fight each other, if you want to fight.' What 
do you say to that ? — I, simpleton as I am, knovr 
very well what is in the wind, and that is that the 
first Consul — Emperor — Sultan — whatever you 
call him — wants to settle the English, and as he 
has no men brave enough for the job he has im- 


posed upon our good King and persuaded him to 
lend him his ; and the truth is he is sickening us 
with his everlasting sea-fights. Will you just tell 
me what is Spain to gain in all this ? Why is 
Spain to submit to being cannonaded day after 
day for nothing at all ? Before all that rascally 
business Marcial has told us of what harm had the 
English ever done us? — Ah, if they would only 
listen to me ! Master Buonaparte might fight by 
himself, for I would not fight for him ! " 

"It is quite true," replied my master, "that 
our alliance with France is doing us much dam- 
age, for all the advantages accrue to our ally, 
while all the disasters are on our side." 

" Well, then, you utter simpletons, why do 
you encourage the poor creatures to fight in this 

"The honor of the nation is at stake," replied 
Don Alonso, " and after having once joined the 
dance it would be a disgrace to back out of it. 
Last month, when I was at Cadiz, at my cousin's 
daughter's christening, Churruca said to me : 
' This French alliance and that villainous treaty 
of San Ildefonso, which the astuteness of Buona- 
parte and the weakness of our government made 
a mere question of subsidies, will be the ruin of 
us and the ruin of our fleet if God does not come 


to the rescue, and afterwards will be the ruin of 
the colonies too and of Spanish trade with Amer- 
ica. But we must ^o on now all the same. . . ' " 

"Well," said Dona Francisca, "what I say is 
that the Prince of Peace is interfering in things 
he does not understand. There you see what a 
man without learning is ! My brother the arch- 
deacon, who is on Prince Ferdinand's side, says 
that Godoy is a thoroughly commonplace soul^ 
that he has studied neither Latin nor theology 
and that all he knows is how to play the guitar 
and twenty ways of dancing a gavotte. They 
made him prime minister for his good looks, as it 
would seem. That is the way we do things in 
Spain ! And then we hear of starvation and 
want — everything is so dear — yellow fever 
breaking out in Andalusia. — This is a pretty state 
of things, sir, — yes, and the fault is yours; 
yours," she went on, raising her voice and turning 
purple. " Yes, senor, yours, who offend God by 
killing so many people — and if you would go to- 
church and tell your beads instead of wanting to 
go in those diabolical ships of war, the devil 
would not find time to trot round Spain so nim- 
bly, playing the mischief with us all." 

" But you shall come to Cadiz too," said Don 
Alonso, hoping to light some spark of enthusiasm 


in his wife's heart; "you shall go to Flora's 
liouse, and from the balcony you will be able to 
see the fight quite comfortably, and the smoke and 
the flames and the flags. — It is a beautiful sight ! " 

"Thank you very much — but I should drop 
-dead with fright. Here we shall be quiet ; those 
who seek danger may go there." 

Here the dialogue ended, and I remember 
every Avord of it though so many years have 
elapsed. But it often happens that the most re- 
mote incidents that occurred even in our earliest 
childhood, remain stamped on our imagination 
more clearly and permanently than the events of 
our riper years when our reasoning faculties have 
gained the upper hand. 

That evening Don Alonzo and Marcial talked 
■over matters whenever Dona Francisca left them 
together ; but this was at rare intervals, for she 
was suspicious and v/atchful. When she went off 
to church to attend vespers, as was her pious cus- 
tom, the two old sailors breathed freely again as 
if they were two giddy schoolboys out of sight of 
the master. They shut themselves into the library, 
pulled out their maps and studied them with eager 
attention ; then they read some papers in which 
they had noted down the names of several English 
vessels with the number of their guns and meai, 


and in the course of their excited conference, in 
which reading was varied by vigorous commen- 
tary, I discovered that they were scheming the 
plan of an imaginary naval battle. Marcial, by 
means of energetic gymnastics with his arm and a 
half, imitated the advance of the squadron and the 
explosion of the broadsides ; with his head he 
indicated the alternate action of the hostile vessels; 
with his body the heavy lurch of each ship as it 
went to the bottom ; with his hand the hauling 
up and down of the signal flags ; he represented 
the boatswain's whistle by a sharp sibilation ; the 
rattle of the cannon by thumping his wooden leg 
on the floor ; he smacked his tongue to imitate 
the swearing and confusion of noises in the fight ; 
and as my master assisted him in this performance 
with the utmost gravity I also must need take my 
share in the fray, encouraged by their example 
and giving natural vent to that irresistible longing 
to make a noise which is a master passion with 
every boy. Seeing the enthusiasm of the two 
veterans, I could no longer contain m3^self and 
took to leaping about the room — a freedom in 
which I was justified by my master's kind famili- 
arity; I imitated with my head and arms the 
movements of a vessel veering before the wind, 
and at the same time making my voice as big as 


possible I shouted out all the most sonorous 
monosyllables I could think of as being most like 
the noise of a cannon. My worthy master and 
the mutilated old sailor, quite as childish as I in 
their own way, paid no attention to my proceed- 
ings, being entirely preoccupied with their own 

How I have laughed since when I have re- 
membered the scene ! and how true it is — in 
spite of all my respect for my companions in the 
game — that senile enthusiasm makes old men 
children once more and renews the puerile follies 
of the cradle even on the very brink of the tomb ! 

They were deep in their discussion when 
they heard Doiia Francisca's step returning from 

"She is coming!" cried Marcial in an agony 
of alarm, and they folded up the maps and began 
to talk of indifferent matters. I, however, not 
being able to cool down my juvenile blood so 
rapidly or else not noticing my mistress's approach 
soon enough, went on, down the middle of the 
room in my mad career, ejaculating with the 
utmost incoherence, such phrases as I had picked 
up: "Tack to starboard! Now Port! Broadside 
to the leeward! Fire! Bang! bom! boom!. . ." 
She came up to me in a fury and without any 


warning delivered a broadside on my figure-head 
with her right hand, and with such effect that for 
a few moments I saw nothing but stars. 

" What ! you too ?" she cried, battering me 
unmercifully. "You see," she added, turning on 
her husband with flashing eyes, "you have taught 
him to feel no respect for you ! — You thought 
you were still in the Caleta did you, you little 
ne'er do weel ?" 

The commotion ended by my running off to 
the kitchen crying and disgraced, after striking 
my colors in an ignominious manner, before the 
superior force of the enemy ; Doiia Francisca 
giving chase and belaboring my neck and shoul- 
ders with heavy slaps. In the kitchen I cast 
anchor and sat down to cry over the fatal termi- 
nation of my sea-fight. 



In opposing her husband's insane determina- 
tion to join the fleet, Dona Francisca did not rely- 
solely on the reasons given in the last chapter; 
she had another and more weighty one which she 
did not mention in the course of that conversa- 
tion, perhaps because it was wiser not. But the 
reader does not know it, and must be told. 

I have mentioned that my master had a 
daughter; this daughter's name was Rosita ; she 
was a little older than I was, that is to say scarcely 
fifteen, and a marriage had been arranged for her 
with a young officer of artillery named Malespina, 
belonging to a family of Medinasidonia and dis- 
tantly related to my master. The wedding had 
been fixed for the end of October and, as may be 
supposed, the absence of the bride's father on so 
solemn an occasion would have been highly im- 

I must here give some account of my young 
lady, of her bridegroom, her love-affairs and her 
projected marriage ; and alas ! my recollections 
take a tinge of melancholy, recalling to my fancy 


many troublesome and far-away scenes, figures 
from another world — and stirring my weary old 
heart with feelings of which I should find it hard 
to say whether they were more pleasurable or sad. 
Those ardent memories which now lie withered in 
my brain, like tropical flowers exposed to a chill 
northern blast, sometimes make me laugh — but 
sometimes make me grave. However, to my tale, 
or the reader will be tired of these wearisome 
reflections which, after all, interest no one but 
myself <m 

Rosita was uncommonly pretty. I remember 
vividly how pretty she was, though I should find 
it difficult to describe her features. I fancy I see 
her now, smiling in my face ; the curious expres- 
sion of her countenance, unlike any other I ever 
saw, dwells in my mind — from the perfect dis- 
tinctness with which it rises before me — like one 
of those innate ideas which seem to have come 
into the world with us from a former existence, or 
to have been impressed on our minds by some 
mysterious power while we were still in the cradle. 
And yet I cannot describe it, for what then was 
real and tangible remains now in my brain as a 
vague ideal ; and while nothing is so fascinating 
as a beloved ideal, nothing so completely eludes 
all categorical description. 


When I first went into the house I thought 
that Rosita belonged to some superior order of 
beings ; I will explain my feelings more fully that 
you may form an idea of my utter simpleness. 
When we are little and a child comes into the 
world within our family the grown-up folks are 
apt to tell us that it has come from France, Paris, 
or England. I, like other children, having no no- 
tions as to the multiplication of the human race, 
firmly believed that babies were imported packed 
up in boxes like a cargo of hardware. Thus, gaz- 
ing for the first time at my master's daughter, I 
argued that so lovely a being could not have 
come from the same factory as the rest of us, that 
is to say from Paris or from England, and I 
remained convinced that there must be some 
enchanted region where heaven-sent workmen 
were employed in making these choicer and 
lovelier specimens of humanity. Both of us being 
children, though in different ranks of life, we were 
soon on those terms of mutual confidence which 
were natural to our years, and my greatest joy 
was in playing with her, submitting to all her 
vagaries and insolence, which is not saying a little, 
for our relative position was never lost sight of in 
our games ; she was always the young lady and I 
always the servant, so that I got the worst of it 


when slaps were going, and I need not say who 
was the sufferer. 

My highest dream of happiness was to be 
allowed to fetch her from school, and when, by 
some unforeseen accident, some one else was 
entrusted with this delightful duty I was so deeply 
distressed that I honestly thought there could be 
no greater grief in life, and would say to myself: 
" It is impossible that I should ever be more mis- 
erable when I am a man grown." My greatest 
delight was to climb the orange-tree in the court- 
yard to pick the topmost sprays of blossom ; I 
felt myself at a height far above the greatest king 
on earth when seated on his throne, and I can 
remember no pleasure to be compared to that of 
being obliged to capture her in that divinely rap- 
turous game known as hide and seek. If she ran 
like a gazelle I flew like a bird to catch her as 
soon as possible, seizing her by the first part of 
her dress or person that I could lay my hand on. 
When we changed parts, when she was the pur- 
suer and I was to be caught, the innocent delight 
of the blissful game was doubled, and the darkest 
and dingiest hole in which I might hide, breath- 
lessly awaiting the grasp of her imprisoning 
hands, was to me a perfect paradise. And I may 
honestly say that during these happy games I 


never had a thought or a feehng that did nof 
emanate from the purest and most loyal ideal- 

Then her singing ! From the time when she 
was quite little she used to sing the popular airs 
of Andalusia with the ease of a nightingale, which 
knows all the secrets of song without having been 
taught. All the neighbors admired her wonderful 
facility and would come to listen to her, but to me 
their applause and admiration were an offence ; I 
could have wished her to sing to no one but me. 
Her singing was a sort of melancholy warbling^ 
qualified by her fresh childlike voice. The air, 
which repeated itself with complicated little turns 
and trills like a thread of sound, seemed to be lost 
in distant heights and then to come back to earth 
again on the low notes. It was like the song of 
the lark as it rises towards heaven and suddenly 
comes down to sing close in our ears ; the spirit 
of the hearer seemed to expand as it followed the 
voice, and then to contract again, but always fol- 
lowing the swing of the melody and feeling the 
music to be inseparable from the sweet little 
singer. The effect was so singular that to me it 
was almost painful to hear her, particularly in the 
presence of others. 

We were, as I have said, of about the same 


age, she being eight or nine months older than I 
was. But I was stunted and puny while she was 
well grown and vigorous, and at the end of my 
three years' residence in the house she looked 
much the elder of the two. These three years 
slipped by without our either of us suspecting that 
we were growing up ; our games went on without 
interruption, for she was much livelier by nature 
than I, though her mother would scold her, try- 
ing to keep her in order and make her study — 
in which, however, she did not always succeed. 
At the end of these three years, however, my 
adored young mistress was a woman grown ; her 
figure was round and well formed, giving the 
finishing touch to her beauty ; her face had a ten- 
derer blush, a softer form, a gentler look ; her 
large eyes were brighter but their glance was less 
restless and eager ; her gait was more sober ; her 
movements were, I cannot say lighter nor less 
light, but certainly different, though I could not, 
either then or now, define in what the difference 
lay. But no change struck me so much as that 
in her voice, which acquired a gravity and depth 
very unlike the shrill gay tones in which she had 
been wont to call me, bewildering my common- 
sense and making me leave my various duties to 
join in her games. The bud, in short, had become 


a rose, the chrysalis was transformed into a but- 

Then, one day — one dreadful, dismal day — 
my young mistress appeared before me in a long 
dress. This alteration made such an impression 
on me that I could not speak a word the whole 
day. I felt like a man who has been cruelly 
imposed upon, and I was so vexed with her that 
in my secret soul I found fifty reasons for seri- 
ously resenting her rapid development. A perfect 
fever of argumentativeness was fired in my brain, 
and I debated the matter with myself in the most 
fervent manner during my sleepless nights. The 
thing that utterly confounded me was that the 
addition of a few yards of stuff to her skirts 
seemed altogether to have altered her character. 
That day — a thousand times unblessed — she 
spoke to me with the greatest formality, ordering 
me coldly and even repellently to do all the 
things I least liked doing — and she, who had so 
often been my accomplice and screen in idleness, 
now reproved me for it ! and all this without a 
smile, or a skip, or a glance ! — No more running, 
no more songs, no more hiding for me to find 
her, no making believe to be cross ending in a 
laugh — not a squabble, not even a slap from 
her sweet little hand ! It was a terrible crisis 


in my life — she was a woman and I was still a 
child ! 

I need not say that this was an end to our 
pranks and games ; I never again climbed the 
orange-tree, which henceforth blossomed unmo- 
lested by my greedy devotion, and unfolded its 
leaves and shed its luscious perfume at its own 
sweet will; we never again scampered across the 
court-yard, nor trotted too and from school — I, 
so proud of my responsibility, that I would have 
defended her against an army if they had tried to 
carry her off. From that day Rosita always 
walked with the greatest dignity and circumspec- 
tion. I often observed that as she went up-stairs 
in front of me she took care not to show an inch, 
not a line, of her pretty ankles, and this systematic 
concealment I felt to be an insult to my dignity, 
for I had till lately seen a great deal more than 
her ankles ! Bless me ! I can laugh now when I 
remember how my heart was ready to burst over 
these things. 

But worse misfortunes were in store. One day 
in the same year as that of this transformation old 
'Aunt' Martina, Rosario the cook, Marcial, and 
other members of the kitchen society were dis- 
cussing something very important. I made the 
best use of my ears and presently gathered the 


most alarming hints : My young mistress was to 
be married. The thing seemed incredible for I 
had never heard of a lover. However, the parents 
used to arrange all these matters and the strange 
thing is that sometimes they did not turn out 
badly. A young man of good family had asked 
her hand, and her parents had consented. He 
came to the house accompanied by his relatives, 
who were some kind of counts or marquises with 
a high-sounding title. The suitor wore a naval 
uniform, for he served his country as a sailor, but 
in spite of his elegant costume he was by no 
means attractive. This no doubt was the impres- 
sion he made on my young mistress, for from the 
first she manifested a great dislike to the marriage. 
Her mother tried to persuade her, but all in vain 
though she drew the most flattering picture of the 
young man's excellent talents, ancient lineage and 
splendid wealth. The young girl was not to be 
convinced, and answered all these arguments with 
others no less cogent. 

However, the sly baggage never said a word 
about the real reason, which was that she had 
another lover whom she really loved. This was a 
young artillery officer, Don Rafael Malespina, a 
fine-looking young fellow with a pleasing face. 
My young mistress had made his acquaintance in 


church, and the traitor Love had taken advantage 
of her while she was saying her prayers ; but 
indeed a church has always seemed the fittest 
place, with its poetical and mysterious influences, 
for the doors of the soul to be opened for the 
admission of love. Malespina took to lurking 
round the house, in which I detected him on 
various occasions, and this love-affair became so 
much talked of in Vejer that the young naval 
officer came to know of it and challenged his rival. 
My master and mistress heard the whole story 
when news was brought to the house that Males- 
pina had wounded his antagonist severely. 

The scandal caused an immense commotion. 
My mistress's religious feelings were so much 
shocked by this deed that neither she nor my 
master could conceal their wrath, and Rosita was 
their first victim. However, months went by ; 
the wounded man got well again, and as Males- 
pina himself was a man of birth and wealth, there 
were evident indications in the political atmos- 
phere of the house that Don Rafael was about to 
be admitted. The parents of the wounded man 
gave up the suit, and those of the conqueror 
appeared in their place to ask the hand of my 
sweet young mistress. After some discussion and 
demur the match was agreed upon. 


I remember the first time old Malespina came. 
He was a very tall, dry-looking man with a gau- 
dily-colored waistcoat, a quantity of seals and 
ornaments hanging to his watch, and a very large 
sharp nose with which he. seemed to be smelling 
every one he talked to. He was terribly voluble 
and never allowed any one else to get a word in ; 
he contradicted everything, and it was impossible 
to praise anything without his saying that he had 
something far better. From the first I felt sure 
he was a vain man and utterly untruthful, and my 
opinion was amply justified later. My master 
received him with friendly politeness, as well as 
his son who came with him. From that time the 
lover came to the house every day, sometimes 
alone and sometimes with his father. 

Now a new phase came over my young mis- 
tress. Her coolness to me was so marked that it 
verged on utter contempt. It made me under- 
stand clearly, for the first time, the humbleness of 
my condition, and I cursed it bitterly ; I tried to 
argue with myself as to the claims to superiority 
of those who really were my superiors, asking my- 
self, with real anguish of mind, how far it was right 
and just that others should be rich and noble and 
learned, while my ancestry were of such low 
origin ; my sole fortune was my skin, and. I hardly 


knew how to read. Seeing what the reward of 
my devotion was, I fully believed that there was 
no ambition in this wide world that I dared aspire 
to ; and it was not till long after that I acquired a 
rational conviction that, by a steady and vigorous 
use of my own powers, I might gain almost every- 
thing I was deficient in. Under the scorn with 
which she treated me I lost all confidence in my- 
self; I never dared open my lips in her presence, 
and she inspired me with far greater awe than her 
parents. Meanwhile I attentively watched all the 
signs of the love that possessed her ; I saw her 
sad and impatient when her lover was late ; at 
every sound of an approaching footstep her 
pretty face flushed and her black eyes sparkled 
with anxiety and hope. If it was he who came 
in she could not conceal her rapture, and then 
they would sit and talk for hours together ; but 
always under the eye of Doiia Francisca, for she 
would not have allowed the young lady to have a 
tetc-a-tetc meeting Avith any one, even through 
iron bars. 

However, they carried on an extensive corre- 
spondence, and the worst of it all was that I had 
to be the go-between and courier. That drove 
me mad! — The regular thing was that I should 
go out and meet the young gentleman at a cer- 


tain place, as punctually as a clock, and he would 
give me a note to carry to my young mistress ; 
having discharged this commission, she would give 
me one to take to him. How often have I felt 
tempted to burn those letters instead of delivering 
them. However, luckily for me, I always kept 
cool enough to resist this base temptation. I 
need hardly add that I hated Malespina ; I no 
sooner saw him come into the house than my 
blood boiled, and whenever he desired me to do 
anything I did it as badly and sulkily as possible, 
wishing to betray my extreme disgust. This dis- 
gust, which to them seemed simply bad service, 
while to me it was a display of honest wrath 
worthy of a proud and noble heart, earned me 
many reprimands, and above all it once led my 
young lady to make a speech that pierced me to 
the heart like the thrust of an arrow. On one 
occasion I heard her say : " That boy is getting so 
troublesome that we shall have to get rid of him." 
At last the day was fixed for the wedding, and 
it was only a short while before that event that 
all I have already related took place with refer- 
ence to my master's project. It may therefore be 
easily understood that Dona Francisca had excel- 
lent reasons for objecting to her husband's joining 
the fleet, besides her regard for his safety. 


I REMEMBER very well that the day after the 
cuffing bestowed on me by Dona Francisca in her 
wrath at my irreverent conduct and her intense 
aversion to all naval warfare, I went out to attend 
my master in his daily walk. He leaned upon my 
arm, and on the other side of him walked Marcial; 
we went slowly to suit Don Alonso's feeble pace 
and the awkwardness of the old sailor's wooden 
leg. It was like one of those processions in which 
a group of tottering and worm-eaten saints are 
carried along on a shaky litter, threatening to 
fall if the pace of the bearers is in the least accel- 
erated. The two old men had no energy or 
motive power left but their brave hearts, which 
still acted as truly as a machine just turned out of a 
workshop; or like the needle of a ship's compass 
which, notwithstanding its unerring accuracy, 
could do nothing to work the crazy craft it served 
to guide ! During our walk my master — after 
having asserted, as usual, that if Admiral Cordova 
had only tacked to port instead of starboard 
the battle of 'the 14th' would never have been. 


lost — turned the conversation once more on their 
grand project, and though they did not put their 
scheme into plain words, no doubt because I was 
present, I gathered from what they said that they 
intended to effect their purpose by stealth, quietly 
walking out of the house one morning without my 
mistress's knowledge. 

When we went in again indifferent matters 
were talked over. My master, who was always 
amiable to his wife, was more so, that day, than 
ever. Dona Francisca could say nothing, however 
trivial, that he did not laugh at immoderately. 
He even made her a present of some trifles, doing 
his utmost to keep her in a good humor, and it 
was no doubt as a result of this conspicuous com- 
plaisance that my mistress was crosser and more 
peevish than I had ever seen her. No accommo- 
dation was possible ; she quarrelled with Marcial 
over heaven knows what trifle, and desired him 
to quit the house that instant ; she used the most 
violent language to her husband ; and during 
dinner, though he praised every dish with un- 
wonted warmth, the lady was implacable and went 
on grumbling and scolding. 

At last it was time for evening prayers, a 
solemn ceremony performed in the dining-room 
in the presence of all the household ; and my 


master, who would not unfrequcntly go to sleep 
while he lazily nuittered the Paternoster, was that 
evening unusuall}^ wide awake and prayed with 
genuine fervor, his voice being heard above all 
the rest. Another incident occurred which struck 
me particularly. The walls of the rooms were 
decorated with two distinct sets of prints : sacred 
subjects and maps — the hierarchy of Heaven on 
one hand and the soundings all round Europe and 
America on the other. After supper my master 
was standing in the passage, studying a mariner's 
chart and tracing lines upon it with his trem- 
bling forefinger, when Doiia Francisca, who had 
gathered some hints of the plan for evasion, and 
who always appealed to Heaven when she caught 
her husband red-handed in any manifestations of 
nautical enthusiasm, came up behind him, and 
throwing up her arms, exclaimed : 

" Merciful Heaven ! If you are not enough to 
provoke a Saint !" 

"But, my dear," my master timidly replied, 
" I was only tracing the course taken by Alcala 
Galiano and Valdes in the schooners Sittil and 
Mcjicana when we went to explore the straits of 
Magellan. It was a delightful expedition — I must 
have told you all about it." 

"I shall come to burning all that paper trash!" 


cried Dona Francisca. " A plague on voyages 
and on the wandering dog of a Jew who invented 
them. You would do better to take some concern 
for the salvation of your soul, for the long and the 
short of it is }'ou are no chicken. What a man ! 
to be sure — what a man to have to take care of!" 

She could not get over it; I happened to pass 
that way, but I cannot remember whether she 
relieved her fury by giving me a thrashing and 
demonstrating at once the elasticity of my ears 
and the Aveight of her hands. The fact is that 
these little endearments were so frequently re- 
peated, that I cannot recollect whether I received 
them on this particular occasion ; all I remember 
is that my master, in spite of his utmost amiabi- 
lity, entirely failed to mollify his wife. 

Meanwhile I have neglected to speak of 
Rosita ; she was in a very melancholy mood, for 
Senor de Malespina had not made his appearance 
all day nor written her a note ; all my excursions 
to the market-place having proved vain. Evening 
came and with it grief fell on the young girl's 
soul, for there was no hope now of seeing him till 
next day — but suddenly, after supper had been 
ordered up, there was a loud knock at the door. 
I flew to open it, and it was he ; before I opened 
it my hatred had recognized him. 


I fancy I can see him now as he stood before 
■me then, shaking his cloak which was wet with 
rain. Whenever I recall that man 1 see him as I 
saw him then. To be frankly impartial, I must 
say he was a very handsome young fellow, with a 
fine figure, good manners, and a pleasant expres- 
sion; rather cold and reserved at first, grave and 
extremely courteous with the solemn and rather 
exaggerated politeness of the old school. He was 
dressed that evening in a frock-coat, with riding 
breeches and top boots; he wore a Portuguese hat 
and a very handsome cloak of scarlet cloth, lined 
with silk, which was the height of fashion with the 
gilded youth of that time. 

As soon as he had come in I saw that some- 
thing serious had happened. He went into the 
dining-room where all were much surprised to see 
him at so late an hour, for he never called in the 
evening ; but my young mistress had hardly time 
to be glad before she understood that this unex- 
pected visit was connected with some painful 

" I have come to take leave of you," said 
Malespina. They all sat stupefied, and Rosita 
turned as white as the paper on which I am writ- 
ing; then she turned scarlet and then again as 
pale as death. 


" But what has happened ? Where are you 
going Don Rafael ?" asked my mistress. I have 
said that Malespina was an artillery officer, but I 
did not mention that he was stationed at Cadiz 
and at Veger only on leave. 

" As the fleet is short of men," he replied, " we 
are under orders to embark and serve on board 
ship. They say a battle is inevitable and most of 
the vessels are short of gunners." 

"Christ, Mother Mary and Saint Joseph!" 
shrieked Dona Francisca almost beside herself. 
" And they are taking you too ? That is too 
much. Your duties are on land, my friend. Tell 
them to manage as best they may ; if they want 
men let them find them. Upon my soul this is 
beyond a joke !" 

" But, my dear," said Don Alonso humbly, 
"do not you see that they must . . . ." But he 
could not finish his sentence, for Dona Francisca, 
whose cup of wrath and grief was overflowing, 
proceeded to apostrophize all the potentates of the 

"You — "she exclaimed, "anything and 
everything seems right in your eyes, if only it is 
to benefit those blessed ships of war. And who, 
I say, who is the demon from hell who has ordered 
land forces on board ship ? You need not tell 


me. — It is Buonaparte's doing. No Spaniard 
would have concocted such an infernal plot. Go 
and tell them that you are just going to be mar- 
ried. Come now," she added, turning to her hus- 
band, " write to Gravina and tell him that this 
young man cannot join the squadron." Then, 
seeing that her husband only shrugged his 
shoulders, she cried : 

" He is of no use whatever ! Mercy on me ! 
If only I wore trousers I would be off to Cadiz 
and stop there till I had got you out of this 

Rosita said not a word. I who Avas watching 
her narrowly perceived how agitated she was. 
She never took her eyes off her lover, and if it 
had not been for good manners and to keep up 
her dignity, she would have cried and sobbed 
loudly to relieve the grief that was almost suffo- 
cating her. 

"The soldier," said Don Alonso, " is the slave 
of duty, and our young friend is required by his 
country to serve on board ship in her defence. 
He will gain glory in the impending struggle, and 
make his name famous by some great deed which 
history will record as an example to future 

"Oh yes — this, that and the other!" said 


Dona Francisca mimicking the pompous tone in 
which her husband had made this speech. " We 
know — and all for what ? To humor those ne'er- 
do-weels at Madrid. Let them come themselves 
to fire the cannons, and fight on their own ac- 
count ! — And when do you start ?" 

"To-morrow morning. My leave is cut short 
and I am under orders to proceed at once to 

It would be impossible to describe the look 
that came into my young mistress's face as she 
heard these words. The lovers looked at each 
other, and a long and mournful silence fell after 
this announcement of Malespina's immediate de- 

" But this is not to be borne !" exclaimed 
Doiia Francisca. " They will be calling out the 
peasantry next — and the women too, if the whim 
takes them. Lord of Heaven !" she went on 
looking up to the ceiling with the glare of a 
pythoness, " I do not fear to offend Thee by say- 
ing: Curses on the inventor of ships — Curses on- 
all who sail in them, and Curses on the man wha 
made the first cannon, with its thunder that is 
enough to drive one mad, and to be the death 
of so many poor wretches who never did any 
harm !" 


Don Alonso looked at the young officer, ex- 
pecting to read some protest in his face against 
these insults to the noble science of gunnery. 
Then he said : 

" The worst of it is that the ships will lack 
material too and it would be , . . ." 

Marcial, who had been listening at the door 
to the whole conversation, could no longer contain 
himself He came into the room saying: 

" And why should they lack material ? — The 
Trinidad carries 140 guns — 32 thirty-six poun- 
ders, 34twenty-four pounders, 36 twelve-pounders, 
18 eighty-pounders, and 10 mortars. T\\q Principe 
^de Astiirias carries 118, the Santa Ana 120, the 
Rayo 100, the Ncpomuccno, and the San . . . ." 

*' What business have you to interfere !" ex- 
claimed Doiia Francisca. " And what does it 
matter to us whether they carry fifty or eighty ?" 
But Marcial went on with his patriotic list all the 
same, but in a lower voice and speaking only to 
my master, who dared not express his approba- 
tion. Doiia Francisca went on : 

" But for God's sake, Don Rafael, do not go. 
Explain that you are a landsman, that you are 
going to be married. If Napoleon must fight, let 
him fight alone : let him come forward and say : 
' Here am I — kill me, you English — or let me 


kill you.' Why should Spain be subject to his 
lordship's vagaries ?" 

" I must admit," said Malespina, " that our 
alliance with France has proved most disastrous." 

" Then why was it made ? Every one says 
that this Godoy is an ignorant fellow. You might 
think a nation could be governed by playing the 
guitar !" 

" After the treaty of Basle," the young man 
said, " we were forced to become the enemies of 
the English, who defeated our fleet off Cape St, 

" Ah ! there you have it !" exclaimed Don 
Alonso, striking the table violently with his fist. 
*' If Admiral Cordova had given the word to tack 
to port, to the vessels in front — in accordance 
with the simplest rules of strategy — the victory 
would have been ours. I consider that proved to 
a demonstration, and I stated my opinion at the 
time. But every man must keep his place." 

"The fact remains that we were beaten," said 
Malespina. " The defeat might not have led to 
such serious consequences if the Spanish ministry 
had not signed the treaty of San Ildefonso with 
the French republic. That put us at the mercy of 
the First Consul, obliging us to support him in 
wars which, had no aim or end but the furthering 


of his ambition. The peace of Amiens was no 
better than a truce ; England and France declared 
war again immediately, and then Napoleon de- 
manded our assistance. We wished to remain 
neutral, for that treaty did not oblige us to take 
any part in the second war, but he insisted on our 
co-operation with so much determination that the 
King of Spain, to pacify him, agreed to pay him a 
subsidy of a hundred millions of rcalcs — it was 
purchasing our neutrality with gold. But even so 
Ave did not get what we had paid for ; in spite of 
this enormous sacrifice we were dragged into war. 
England forced us into it by seizing, without any 
justification, four of our frigates returning from 
America freighted with bullion. After such an 
act of piracy the parliament of Madrid had no 
choice but to throw the country into the hands of 
Napoleon, and that was exactly what he wished. 
Our navy agreed to submit to the decision of the 
First Consul — nay, he was already Emperor — 
and he, hoping to conquer the English by strata- 
gem, sent off the combined fleets to Martinique, in- 
tending to draw off the British naval forces from 
the coasts of Europe. Thus he hoped to realize 
his favorite dream of invading Great Britain ; but 
this clever trick only served to prove the inexperi- 
ence and cowardice of the French Admiral who, on 


his return to Europe would not share with our 
navy the glory of the battle off Finisterre. Then, 
in obedience to the Emperor's orders, the com- 
bined fleets were to enter Brest. They say that 
Napoleon is furious with the French Admiral and 
intends to supplant him immediately." 

" But from what they say," Marcial began^ 
putting his oar in again, as we say, "Monsieur 
Corneta wants to cancel it, and is on the look-out 
for some action which may wipe out the black 
mark against him. I am only too glad, for then 
we shall see who can do something and who 

" One thing is certain," Malespina went on, 
"the English fleet is cruising in our waters and 
means to blockade Cadiz. The Spanish authorities 
think that our fleet ought not to go out of the bay, 
where they have every chance of conquering the 
foe ; but it seems that the French are determined 
to go out to sea." 

" We shall see," said my master. " It cannot 
fail to be a glorious battle, any way." 

" Glorious ! yes . . . ." replied Malespina. "But 
who can promise that fortune shall favor us. You 
sailors indulge in many illusions and, perhaps 
from seeing things too closely, you do not realize 
the inferiority of our fleet to that of the English. 


They, besides having a splendid artillery have all 
the materials at hand for repairing their losses at 
once. As to the men, I need say nothing. The 
enemy's sailors are the best in the world — all old 
and experienced seamen, while only too many of 
the Spanish vessels are manned by raw recruits, 
indifferent to their work and hardly knowing how 
to serve a gun ; our marines, again, are not all we 
could wish, for they have been supplemented by 
land-forces — brave enough, no doubt, but certain 
to be sea-sick." 

" Well, well," said my master, " in the course 
of a few days we shall know the end of it all." 

" I know the end of it all very well," said Dona 
Francisca. " All these gentlemen — though I am 
far from saying they will not have gained glory — 
will come home with broken heads." 

" What can you know about it ?" exclaimed 
Don Alonso, unable to conceal an impulse of vex- 
ation, which, however, lasted but a moment. 

" More than you do," she retorted sharply. 
" But God have you in his keeping, Don Rafael, 
that you may come back to us safe and sound." 

This conversation had taken place during sup- 
per, which was a melancholy meal, and after Dona 
Francisca's last speech no one said another word. 
The meal ended, Malespina took a tender leave of 


them all, and as a special indulgence on so solemn 
an occasion the kind-hearted parents left the lovers 
together, allowing them to bid each other adieu at 
their ease and unseen, so that nothing might pre- 
vent their indulging in any demonstration which 
might relieve their anguish. It is evident that I 
was not a spectator of the scene and I know 
nothing of what took place ; but it may be sup- 
posed that no reticence on either side checked the 
expression of their feelings. 

When Malespina came out of the room he was 
as pale as death ; he once more bid farewell to my 
master and mistress, who embraced him affection- 
ately, and was gone. When we went up to Rosita 
we found her drowned hi tears, and her grief was 
so desperate that her devoted parents could not 
soothe her by any persuasion or argument, nor re- 
vive her energy by any of the remedies for which 
I was sent backwards and forwards to the apothe- 
cary. I must confess that I was so deeply grieved 
at the distress of these hapless lovers that my 
rancorous feelings against Malespina died away in 
my breast. A boy's heart Is easily appeased, and 
mine was always open to gentle and generous im- 



The following morning had a great surprise in 
store for me, and my mistress was thrown into the 
most violent passion I suppose she can ever have 
known in her life. When I got up I perceived that 
Don Alonso was in the best of humors, and his 
wife even more ill-tempered than usual. While 
she was gone to mass with Rosita, I saw my mas- 
ter packing in the greatest haste, putting shirts, 
and other articles of clothing, and among theai 
his uniform, into a portmanteau. I helped him 
and it made me suspect that he was about to steal 
away ; still, I was surprised to see nothing of Mar- 
cial. However, his absence was presently accounted 
for; for Don Alonso, having made his rapid ar- 
rangements, became extremely impatient till the 
old sailor made his appearance, saying: '* Here is 
the chaise. Let us be off before she comes in." 
I took up the valise, and in a twinkling Don 
Alonso, Marcial, and I had sneaked out of the back 
gate so as to be seen by nobody ; we got into the 
chaise, which set off as fast as the wretched hack 
could draw it and the badness of the road allowed. 


This, which was bad enough for horses was al- 
most impassable for vehicles ; however, in spite of 
jolting that almost made us sick, we hurried as 
much as possible, and until we were fairly out of 
sight of the town our martyrdom was allowed no 

I enjoyed the journey immensely, for every 
novelty turns the brain of a boy. Marcial could 
not contain himself for joy, but my master, who 
at first displayed his satisfaction with even less 
reticence than I, became sadder and more subdued 
when we had left the town behind us. From time to 
time he would say : " And she will be so aston- 
ished ! What will she say when she goes home 
and does not find us !" 

As for me, my whole being seemed to expand 
at the sight of the landscape, with the gladness 
and freshness of the morning, and above all with 
the idea of soon seeing Cadiz and its matchless 
bay, crowded with vessels ; its gay and busy 
streets and its creek (the Caleta) which remained 
in my mind as the symbol of the most precious 
gift of life — liberty ; its Plaza, its jetty and other 
spots, all dear to my memory. We had not gone 
more than three leagues when there came in sight 
two riders mounted on magnificent horses, who 
were fast overtaking us and before long joined us. 


We had at once recognized them as Malespina and 
liis father — the tall, haggard, and chattering old 
man of whom I have already spoken. They were 
both much surprised to see Don Alonso, and still 
more so when he explained that he was on his way 
to Cadiz to join a ship. The son took the an- 
nouncement with much gravity; but the father, 
who as you will have understood was an arrant 
braggart and flatterer, complimented my master in 
high-flown terms on his determination, calling him 
the prince of navigators, the mirror of sailors, and 
an honor to his country. 

We stopped to dine at the inn at Conil. The 
gentlemen had what they could get, and Marcial 
and I eat what was left, which was not much. I 
waited at table and heard the conversation, by 
Avhich means I gained a better knowledge of the 
elder Malespina, who at first struck me as a boast- 
ful liar and afterwards as the most amusing chat- 
terbox I ever in my life met with. 

Don Jose Malespina, my young mistress's in- 
tended father-in-law — no relation to the famous 
naval officer of that name — was a retired colonel 
of artillery, and his greatest pride was founded on 
his perfect knowledge of that branch of military 
science and on his personal superiority in the tac- 
tics of gunnery. When he enlarged on that sub- 


ject his imagination seemed to gain in vividness and 
in freedom of invention. 

" Artillery," he .said, without pausing for a mo- 
ment in the act of deglutition, " is indispensable 
on board ships of war. What is a vessel without 
guns ? But it is on land, Seiior Don Alonso, that 
the marvellous results of that grand invention of 
the human mind are seen to the best advantage. 
During the war in Roussillon — you know of 
course that I took part in that campaign and that 
all our successes were due to my promptness in 
managing the artillery. — The battle of Masdeu — : 
How do you suppose that was won ? General 
Ricardos posted me on a hill with four pieces, or- 
dering me not to fire till he sent the word of com- 
mand. But I, not taking the same view of the case, 
kept quiet till a colum,n of the French took up a 
position in front of me, in such a way as that my 
fire raked them from end to end. Now the French 
troops form in file with extraordinary precision. I 
took a very exact aim with one of my guns, cov- 
ering the head of the foremost soldier. — Do you 
see ? The file was wonderfully straight. — I fired, 
and the ball took off one hundred and forty-two 
heads Sir ! and the rest did not fall only because 
the farther end of the line swerved a little. This 
produced the greatest consternation among the 


enemy, but as they did not understand my tactics 
and could not see me from where they stood, they 
sent up another column to attack our troops on my 
right, and that column shared the same fate, and 
another and another, till I had won the battle." 

" Well, senor, it was wonderful !" said my^ 
master, who, seeing the enormity of the lie, had 
no mind to trouble himself to contradict his 

" Then in the second campaign, under the 
command of the Conde de la Union, we gave the 
republicans a very pretty lesson. The defence of 
Boulou was not successful because we ran short 
of ammunition ; but in spite of that I did great 
damage by loading a gun with the keys of the 
church — how^ever, they did not go far, and as a 
last and desperate resource I loaded the cannon 
with my own keys, my watch, my money, a few^ 
trifles I found in my pockets and, at last, with my 
decorations. The strange thing is that one of the 
crosses found its billet on the breast of a French 
general, to which it stuck as if it had been glued 
there and did him no harm whatever. He kept it, 
and when he went to Paris, the Convention con- 
demned him to death or exile — I forget which — 
for having allowed himself to accept an order 
from the hand of an enemy." 


"The devil they did !" said my master, highly 
delighted with these audacious romances. 

" When I was in England," continued the old 
soldier, " you know of course, that I was sent for 
by the English to make improvements in their 
artillery, — I dined every day with Pitt, with 
Burke, with Lord North, Lord Cornwallis, and 
other distinguished personages, who always called 
me 'the amusing Spaniard.' I remember that 
once, when I was at the Palace, they entreated 
me to show them what a bull-fight was like and 
I had to throw my cloak over a chair and to prick 
it and kill it, which vastly diverted all the court, 
and especially King George III., who was very 
great friends with me, and was always saying that 
I must send to my country to fetch some good 
olive-trees. Oh ! we were on the best terms 
possible. All his anxiety was that I should teach 
him a few words of Spanish, and above all some 
of our beautiful Audulusian — but he could never 
learn more than ^ otro iord (another bull) and 
* vengan csos cincd (that makes five), and he 
greeted me with these phrases every day when I 
went to breakfast with him off pescadillas* and a 
few canitas of Manzanilla." 

* Pescadillas are a small fish peculiar to the south .Atlantic coast 
of Spain. Canitas is the name given to certain small glasses used 
only for drinking Manzanilla. 


"That was what he took for breakfast?" 

" That was what he preferred. I had some 
pescadillas bottled and brought from Cadiz. They 
kept very well by a recipe I invented and have 
at home." 

" Wonderful ! And you succeeded in reform- 
ing the English artillery ?" asked my master, en- 
couraging him to go on for he was greatly 

" Perfectly. I invented a cannon which could 
never be fired, for all London, including the min- 
isters and parliament, came to entreat me not to 
attempt it, because they feared that the explosion 
would throw down a number of houses." 

"So that the great gun has been laid aside 
and forgotten ?" 

" The Emperor of Russia wanted to buy it, 
but it was impossible to move it from the spot 
where it stood." 

" Then you surely can get us out of our 
present difficulties by inventing a cannon to 
destroy the whole English fleet atone discharge." 

" Yes," replied Malespina. " I have been 
thinking of it, and I believe I may realize my 
idea. I will show you the calculations I have 
made, not only with regard to increasing the 
calibre of guns to a fabulous degree, but also for 

6 * 


constructing armor plates to protect ships and 
bastions. It is the absorbing idea of my hfe." 

By this time the meal was ended. Marcial 
and I disposed of the fragments in less than no 
time, and we set out again ; the Malespinas on 
horseback by the side of the chaise and we, as 
before, in the tumble-down vehicle. The effects 
of the dinner, and of the copious draughts of 
liquor with which he had moistened it, had stimu- 
lated the old gentleman's inventive powers and 
he went on all the way, pouring out a flood of 
nonsense. The conversation returned to the sub- 
ject with which it had begun, the war in Roussillon, 
and as Don Jose was preparing to relate fresh 
deeds of valor, my master, weary of so many false- 
hoods, tried to divert him to something else, by 
saying: "It was a disastrous and impolitic war. 
We should have done better never to have under- 
taken it." 

" Oh ! the Conde de Aranda, as you know," 
exclaimed Malespina, " condemned that unlucky 
v/ar with the Republic from the first. How often 
have we discussed the question — for we have 
been friends from our childhood. When I was 
in Aragon we lived together for six months at 
Moncayo. Indeed, it was for him that I had a 
very curious gun constructed . . ." 


"Yes, Aranda was always opposed to it," in- 
terrupted Don Alonso, intercepting him on the 
dangerous ground of gunnery. 

"So he did," said Don Jose to whom rodo- 
montade was irresistible, " and I may say that 
when that distinguished man so warmly advocated 
peace with the republicans, it was because I ad- 
vised it, being convinced from the first that the 
war was a mistake. But Godoy, who was then 
supreme, persisted in it, simply and solely to con- 
tradict me, as I have learnt since. But the best 
of it is that Godoy himself was obliged to put an 
end to the war in 1795, when he understood what 
it really was, and at the same time he adopted the 
high-sounding title of Prince of Peace." 

" How much we want a good statesman, my 
worthy friend," said my master. "A man on a 
level with the times, who would not throw us into 
useless wars but who could maintain the dignity 
of the crown." 

"Well, when I was at Madrid last year," con- 
tinued Don Jose, "proposals were made to me to 
accept the post of Secretary of State. The Queen 
was most anxious for it — the King said nothing. 
I went with him every day to the Prado to fire a 
few shots. — Even Godoy would have agreed, re- 
cognizing my superior qualifications ; and indeed. 


if he had not I should have had no difficulty in 
finding some snug little fortress where I might 
lock him up so that he might give me no trouble. 
However, I declined, preferring to live in peace in 
my own country-town ; I left the management of 
public affairs in Godoy's hands. There you have 
a man whose father was a mule-boy on my father- 
in-law's estate in Estremadura. . . ." 

"I did not know that. ..." said Don Alonso. 
" Although he is a man of obscure origin I always 
supposed the Prince of Peace to belong to a family 
of good birth, whose fortune was impaired but 
whose ancestry was respectable." 

And so the dialogue went on ; Seiior Males- 
pina uttering his falsehoods as if they were gospel,, 
and my master listening with angelic calmness, 
sometimes annoyed by them, and sometimes 
amused at listening to such nonsense. If I re- 
member rightly, Don Jose Maria took the credit of 
having advised Napoleon to the bold deeds of the 
1 8th Brumaire. 

Talking of these and of other matters we 
reached Chiclana as night overtook us, and my 
master, who was utterly tired and worn out by the 
villainous chaise, remained in the town, while the 
others went on, being anxious to reach Cadiz the 
same night. While we were at supper Malespina 


poured out a fresh farrago of lies, and I could see 
that his son heard them with pain, as if he were 
horrified at having for his father the most romanc- 
ing liar in the world probably. We took leave of 
them and rested there till next day when we pro- 
ceeded on our journey by daybreak, and as the 
road from Chiclana to Cadiz was much easier than 
that we had already traversed, we reached the end 
of our journey by about eleven o'clock in the 
morning, without adventure, safe in body and in 
excellent spirits. 



I CANNOT describe the enthusiasm that fired 
my mind at the sight of Cadiz. As soon as I had 
a moment to myself — as soon, that is to say, as 
my master was fairly settled in his cousin's house — 
I went out into the streets and ran to and fro 
without any fixed destination, intoxicated as it 
were by the atmosphere of my beloved native city. 
After so long an absence all I saw attracted my 
attention as though it were something new and 
beautiful. In how many of the passers-by did I 
recognize a familiar face ? everything charmed me 
and appealed to my feelings — men, women, old 
folks, children — the dogs, nay the houses even ; 
for my youthful imagination discovered in each a 
personal and living individuality ; I felt towards 
them as towards intelligent creatures ; they seemed 
to me to express, like all else, their satisfaction at 
seeing me, and to wear, in their balconies and 
windows, the expression of gay and cheerful faces. 
In short my spirit saw its own gladness reflected 
in every surrounding object. 

I hurried through the streets with eager curi- 


osity, as if I wanted to see them all at once. In 
the Plaza San Juan I bought a handful of sweet- 
meats, less for the satisfaction of eating them than 
for that of introducing myself under a new aspect 
to the sellers, whom I addressed as an old friend ; 
some of them with gratitude as having been 
kind to me in my former misery and others as 
victims, not yet indemnified, to my childish pro- 
pensity for pillage. Most of them did not remem- 
ber me ; some, however, received me with abusive 
language, bringing up the deeds of my youth 
against me and making ironical remarks on my 
new fit-out and the dignity of my appearance, re- 
ducing me to flight as quickly as possible and 
damaging my appearance by pelting me with the 
rind or husks of fruit, flung by skilful hands at my 
new clothes. However, as I was fully convinced 
of my own importance, these insults increased my 
pride more than they hurt my feelings. 

Then I went to the ramparts, and counted all 
the ships at anchor within sight. I spoke to sev- 
eral sailors that I met, telling them that I too was 
about to join the fleet, and asking them with eager 
emphasis whether they had seen Nelson's fleet; and 
then I assured them that Monsieur Cor'ueta was no 
better than a coward and that the impending fight 
would be a grand affair. At last I reached the 


creek and there my delight knew no bounds. I 
went down to the shore and, taking off my shoes, 
I leaped from rock to rock ; I sought out my old 
comrades of both sexes but I found only a few,, 
some who were now men had taken to some bet- 
ter mode of living, others had been impressed into 
the ships, and those who were left hardly recog- 
nized me. The undulating motion of the water 
excited my very senses ; I could not resist the 
temptation — urged by the mysterious spell of the 
sea whose eloquent murmurs have always sounded 
to me — I know not why — like a voice inviting 
me to happiness or calling me with imperious 
threats to rave and storm. I stripped myself as 
quick as thought and threw myself into the 
water as if I were flying to the arms of a lover. I 
swam about for more than an hour, happy beyond 
all words, and then, having dressed myself, I con- 
tinued my walk to the purlieus of la Vina where, 
in the taverns, I came across some of the most 
famous rascals of my young days. In talking with 
them I gave myself out to be a man of position, 
and as such, I wasted the few cuartos I possessed 
in treating them. I asked after my uncle but no one 
could give me any news of that gentleman, and 
after we had chatted for awhile they made me 
drink a glass of brandy which instantly went to my 


head and lay me prone on the floor. During the 
crisis of my intoxication I thought the scoundrels 
were laughing at me to their hearts' content; but 
as soon as I recovered a little I sneaked out of the 
tavern much ashamed of myself I still had some 
difficulty in walking ; I had to go by my own old 
home and there, at the door, I saw a coarse-look- 
ing woman frying blood and tripe. Much touched 
by recognizing the home of my childhood I could 
not help bursting into tears and the heartless 
woman, seeing this, took it for granted it was some 
jest or trick to enable me to steal her unsavory 
mess. However, I was able to take to my heels 
and so escape her clutches, postponing the ex- 
pression of my emotion till a more favorable op- 

After this I thought I should like to see the 
old Cathedral, with which the tenderest memory 
of my childhood was inseparably linked, and I 
went into it ; the interior seemed to me most beau- 
tiful ; never have I felt a deeper impulse of relig- 
ious veneration in any church. It gave me a pas- 
sionate desire to pray, and I did in fact throw 
myself on my knees, before the very altar where 
my mother had offered an ex-voto for my escape 
from death. The waxen image which I be- 
lieved to be an exact likeness of myself was still 


in its place which it filled with all the solemnity of 
sanctity, but it struck me as very like a chestnut- 
husk. And yet this trumpery doll, the symbol of 
piety and maternal devotion, filled me with tender 
respect. I said my prayers on my knees, in 
memory of my good mother's sufferings and death, 
and trying to realize that she was now happy in 
Heaven ; but as my head was not yet very clear 
of the fumes of that accursed brandy, I stumbled 
and fell as I rose from my knees and an indignant 
sacristan turned me out into the street. A few 
steps took me back to the Calle del Fideo, 
where we were staying, and my master scolded 
me for being so long absent. If Dona Francisca 
had been cognizant of my fault I should not have 
escaped a sound drubbing, but my master was 
merciful and never beat me, perhaps because his 
conscience told him he was as much a child as I 

We were staying at Cadiz in the house of a 
cousin of my master; and the reader must allow 
me to describe this lady somewhat fully, for she 
was a character deserving to be studied. Dona 
Flora de Cisniega was an old woman who still pre- 
tended to be young. She was certainly past fifty, 
but she practised every art that might deceive 
the world into believing- her not more than half 


that terrible age As to describing how she con- 
trived to ally science and art to attain her object — 
that would be an undertaking far beyond my 
slender powers. The enumeration of the curls 
and plaits, bows and ends, powders, rouges, washes 
and other extraneous matters which she employed 
in effecting this monumental work of restoration, 
would exhaust the most vivad fancy ; such things 
may be left to the indefatigable pen of the novel- 
ist — this, being History, deals only with great 
subjects and cannot meddle with those elegant 
mysteries. As far as her appearance was con- 
cerned what I remember best was the composition 
of her face, which all the painters of the Academy 
seemed to have touched up with rose color; I re- 
member too that when she spoke she moved her 
lips with a grimace, a mincing prudery which was 
intended either to diminish the width of a very 
wide mouth, or to conceal the gaps in her teeth 
from whose ranks one or two proved deserters 
every year ; but this elaborate attempt was so far 
a failure that it made her uglier rather than better 
looking. She was always richly drest, with pounds 
of powder in her hair, and as she was plump and 
fair — to judge from what was visible through her 
open tucker, or under the transparency of gauze 
and muslin — her best chance lay in the display of 


such charms as are least exposed to the injurious 
inroads of time, an art in which she certainly was 
marvellously successful. 

Doha Flora was devoted to everything anti- 
quated, and much addicted to piety, but not with 
the genuine devoutness of Doiia Francisca ; in- 
deed she was in everything diametrically the oppo- 
site of my mistress ; for while Dona Francisca 
hated even the glory that was won at sea, she was 
an enthusiastic admirer of all fighting-men and of 
the navy in particular. Fired by patriotic passion — 
since at her mature age she could not hope to feel 
the flame of any other — and intensely proud of 
herself as a woman and as a Spaniard, love of her 
country was symbolized in her mind by the roar 
of cannon, and she thought the greatness of a 
nation was measured by tons of gunpowder. Hav- 
ing no children her time was spent in gossip, 
picked up and passed round in a small circle of 
neighbors by two or three chatterboxes like her- 
self; but she also amused herself by her indefati- 
gable mania for discussing public affairs. At that 
time there were no newspapers, and political 
theories, like public news, were passed on from 
mouth to mouth, these being even more falsified 
then than now, in proportion as talk is less trust- 
worthy even than print. 


In all the large towns, and particularly in 
Cadiz, which was one of the foremost cities of 
Spain, there were a number of idle per^ns who 
made it their business always to have the latest 
news from Madrid and Paris, and to be diligent in 
distributing it, priding themselves, in fact, on a 
mission which gained them, so much consideration. 
Some of these newsmongers would meet in the 
evening at Doiia Flora's house, and this, seconded 
by excellent chocolate and still better cakes, at- 
tracted others eager to learn what was going on. 
Doha Flora, knowing that she could not hope to in- 
spire a tender feeling or be quit of the burthen of 
her fifty years, would not have exchanged the part 
she was thus enabled to play for any other that 
could have been offered to her ; for, at that time, 
to be the centre to which all news was conveyed 
was almost as precious a distinction as the majesty 
of a throne. Doha Flora and Dona Francisca 
could never get on together, as may easily be sup- 
posed when we consider the enthusiastic military 
tastes of one, and the pacific timidity of the other. 
Thus, speaking to Don Alonso the day we arrived, 
the good lady said : 

" If you had always listened to your wife you 
might have been a common sailor to this day. 
What a woman ! If I were a man and married to 


such a wife I should burst up Hke a bomb-shell. 
You did very rightly not to follow her advice but 
to come to join the fleet. Why you are not an old 
man yet, Alonsito ; you may still rise to the rank 
of commodore, which you would have been sure 
of if Paca had not clipped your wings, as we do 
to chickens to prevent their straying." 

When, presently, my master's eager curiosity 
made him press her for the latest news, she went 
on : 

" The most important news is that all the naval 
men here are extremely dissatisfied with the French 
Admiral, who displayed his incapacity in the ex- 
pedition to Martinique and the fight off Finisterre. 
He is so timid and so mortally afraid of the English 
that, when the combined fleets ran in here last 
August, he dared not seize the cruisers commanded 
by Collingwood though they were but three ships 
in all. All our officers are greatly disgusted at 
finding themselves obliged to serve under such a 
man ; indeed Gravina went to Madrid to tell 
Godoy so, foreseeing some terrible disaster if the 
command were not placed in more able hands ; 
but the minister gave him some vague answer as 
to why he could not venture to decide in the mat- 
ter, and as Buonaparte is in Germany, dealing with 
the Austrians, he cannot be appealed to. — But it 


is said that he too is dissatisfied with Villeneuvc and 
has determined to dismiss him ; but meanwhile. . . 
If only Napoleon would put the whole fleet under 
the command of some Spaniard — you, for instance, 
Alonso — promoting you at once as I am sure 
you richly deserve. ..." 

" Oh ! I am not fit for it!" replied my master, 
with his habitual modesty. 

" Well, to Gravina, or to Churruca, who is said 
to be a very first-rate sailor. If not I am afraid 
mischief will come of it. You cannot see the 
French from here ; only think, when Villeneuve's 
ships arrived they were short of victuals and am- 
munition, and the authorities here did not care to 
supply them out of the arsenal. They forwarded 
a complaint to Madrid, and as Godoy's one idea is 
to do what the French ambassador M. de Bernou- 
ville asks him, he sent orders that our allies should 
have as much of everything as they required. But 
this had no effect. The commandant of the navy 
yard and the commissary of the ordnance stores 
declared they would deliver nothing to Villeneuvc 
till he paid for it money down and in hard cash. 
This seems to me very right and fair. The last 
misfortune that could come upon us was that these 
fine gentlemen should take possession of the little 
we had left ! Pretty times we live in ! Everything 



is ruinously dear, and yellow fever on one side and 
hard times on the other had brought Andalusia to 
such a state that she was not worth a doit — and 
now, to that you add all the miseries of war. Of 
course the honor of the nation is the first thing 
and we must go on now to avenge the insults we 
have received. I do not want to go back to the 
fight of Finisterre where, through the meanness of 
our allies, we lost the Firme and the Rafael, two 
splendid ships — nor of the piratical seizure of the 
Real Carlos, which was such an act of treachery 
that the Barbary pirates would have been dis- 
graced by it — nor of the plunder of the four 
frigates — nor of the battle off Cape St. . . ." 

"That was the thing," interrupted my master 
eagerly. "Every man must keep his own place, 
but if Admiral Cordova had given the word to 
tack. ..." 

"Yes, yes — I know," exclaimed Doiia Flora, 
who had heard the story a hundred times before. 
" We must positively give them a thorough beating 
and we will. You, I know, are going to cover 
yourself with glory. It will enfuriate Paca." 

" I am of no use for fighting," said my master 
sadly. " I am only going to look on, for sheer 
love of it and devotion to the Spanish flag." 

The day after our arrival my master received 


a visit from a naval officer, an old friend of his, 
whose face I can never forget though I saw him 
but that once. He was a man of about five and 
forty, with a really beautiful and gentle face and an 
expression of such tender melancholy that to see 
him was to love him. He wore no wig, but his 
abundant hair, untortured by the barber into the 
fashionable ailes de pigeoji, was carelessly tied 
into a thick pigtail and heavily powdered, though 
with less elaborate care than was usual at that time. 
His eyes were large and blue, his nose finely chis- 
elled, perfect in outline, rather wide, but not so 
wide as to disfigure him — on the contrary, it 
seemed to give distinction to his expressive coun- 
tenance. His chin, which was carefully shaved, 
was somewhat pointed, and added to the melan- 
choly charm of an oval face which was indicative 
of delicate feeling rather than of energetic determi- 
nation. This noble exterior was well matched by 
the elegance of his manners — a grave courtesy of 
which the fatuous airs of the men of the present 
day retain no trace, any more than the modish 
graces of o\ix jeunesse doree. His figure was small, 
slight and even sickly looking. He looked more 
like a scholar than a warrior, and a brow, behind 
which lofty and subtle thoughts must have lain 
hid, looked ill-fitted to defy the horrors of battle. 
7 * 


His fragile form, inhabited by a soul so far above 
the common, looked as though it must succumb 
to the first shock. And yet — as I afterwards 
learnt — this man's heart was as brave as his in- 
tellect was supreme. It was Churruca. 

Our hero's uniform, though it was not in holes 
nor threadbare, bore the marks of long and hon- 
orable service ; afterwards, when I heard it au- 
thoritatively stated that the Government owed him 
nine quarters' pay, I could account for this dilapi- 
dated appearance. My master asked after his wife, 
and I gathered from the answer that he was only 
lately married, which filled me with pity ; it seemed 
to me so terrible a thing to be dragged off to bat- 
tle in the midst of so much happiness. Then they 
talked of his ship, the San Juan Nepomuceno, 
which he seemed to love as much as his young 
wife ; for, as was well known, he had had it plan- 
ned and fitted to his own taste, under a special 
privilege, and had made it one of the finest ships 
in the Spanish fleet. Then of course they dis- 
cussed the absorbing subject of the day: whether 
the squadrons would or would not put out to sea 
and the Commodore expressed his opinion at 
much length, in very much such words as these; 
for their substance had always remained in my 
memory so that now, by the help of dates and 


historical records, I can reconstruct his speech 
with considerable accuracy. 

" The French admiral," said Churruca, " not 
knowing what course to pursue and being anxious 
to do something which might cast his errors into 
oblivion, has, ever since we arrived, manifested an 
inclination to go and seek the English. On the 
8th of October he wrote to Gravina, saying that 
he wished to hold a council of war on board the 
Bucentaiire (Villeneuve's ship) to agree on the best 
course of action. Gravina went to the council, 
taking with him the Vice-Admiral Alava, Rear- 
Admirals Escaho and Cisneros, Commodore Gali- 
ano and myself Of the French there were present 
Rear-Admirals Dumanoir and Magon and Cap- 
tains Cosmas, Maistral, Villiegries, and Prigmy. 

" Villeneuve having expressed his wish to go 
out to sea, we Spaniards unanimously opposed it. 
The discussion was warm and eager, and Alcala 
Galiano and Magon exchanged such hard words 
that it must have come to a duel if we had not 
intervened to pacify them. Our opposition greatly 
annoyed Villeneuve, and in the heat of argument 
he even threw out certain insolent hints to which 
Gravina promptly retorted. — And indeed these 
worthies display a curious anxiety to go forth to 
seek a powerful foe, considering that they forsook 


US at the battle off Cape Finisterre, depriving us 01" 
what would have been a victory if they had seconded 
us in time. But there are many reasons, which I 
fully explained to the council — such as the ad- 
vanced season, which render it far more advan- 
tageous for us to remain in the bay, forcing them 
to form a blockade which they cannot maintain,, 
particularly if at the same time they blockade 
Toulon and Cartagena. We cannot but admit the 
superiority of the English navy, as to the complete- 
ness of their armament, their ample supply of am- 
munition, and, above all, the unanimity with which 
they manoeuvre. 

" We — manned for the most part with less ex- 
jperienced crews, inadequately armed and provided^ 
and commanded by a leader who dissatisfies every- 
one — might nevertheless act to advantage on the 
defensive, inside the bay. But we shall be forced 
to obey, to succumb to the blind submission of the 
ministry at Madrid and put our vessels and men 
at the mercy of Buonaparte, who, in return for 
this servility has certainly not given us a chief 
worthy of so much sacrifice. We must go if Ville- 
neuve orders it, but if the result is a disaster our 
opposition to his insane resolution stands on record 
as our acquittal. Villeneuve in fact is desperate ; 
his sovereign has used harsh language to him, and 


the warning that he will be degraded from his 
command is prompting him to the maddest acts, 
in the hope of recovering his tarnished reputation, 
in a single day, by death or victory." 

So spoke my master's friend. His words im.- 
pressed me deeply ; child as I still was, I took an 
eager interest in the events going on around me, 
and since — reading in history all the facts to which 
I was then witness, I have been able to aid my 
memory by authenticated dates so that I can tell 
my story with considerable accuracy. 

When Churruca left us, Dona Flora and my 
master sang his praises in the warmest terms; 
praising him especially for the expedition he had 
conducted to Central America to make charts of 
those seas. According to them Churruca's merits 
as a navigator and a man of learning were such 
that Napoleon himself had made him a magnificent 
present and heaped civilities upon him. But we 
will leave the sailor and return to Dona Flora. 

By the end of the second day of our stay in 
her house I becamo aware of a phenomenon which 
disgusted me beyond measure, which was that my 
master's cousin seemed quite to fall in love with 
me ; that is to say, that she took it into her head 
that I Vv'as made to be her page. She never ceased 
to load me with every sort of kindness, and on 


hearing that I too was to join the fleet she bewailed 
herself greatly, swearing that it would be a pity if I 
should lose an arm or a leg, or even some less im- 
portant part of my person — even if I escaped 
with my life. Such unpatriotic pity roused my 
indignation, and I believe I even v/ent so far as 
to declare, in so many words, that I was on fire 
with warlike ardor. My gasconade delighted 
the old lady and she gave me a heap of sweet- 
meats to recover her place in my good graces. 

The next day she made me clean her parrot's 
cage — a most shrewd bird that talked like a 
preacher and woke us at all hours of the morning 
hy shrieking *'perro ingles! " — (dog of an English- 
man.) Then she took me to mass with her, de- 
siring me to carry her stool, and in church she 
was incessantly looking round to see if I were 
there. Afterwards she kept me to look on while 
her hair was dressed — an operation that filled me 
with dismay as I saw the catafalque of curls and 
puffs that the hair-dresser piled on her head. 
Observing the stupid astonishment with which I 
watched the skilful manipulation of this artist — 
a perfect architect of head-pieces — Dona Flora 
laughed very heartily, and assured me that I 
should do better to remain with her as her page 
than to join the fleet, adding that I ought to learn 


to dress her hair, and by acquiring the higher 
branches of the art I might earn my Hving and 
make a figure in the world. Such a prospect, 
however, had nothing seductive to my fancy, and 
I told her, somewhat roughly, that I would rather 
be a soldier than a hair-dresser. This pleased 
her mightily and as I was giving up the comb for 
something more patriotic and military she was 
more affectionate than ever. But notwithstanding 
that I was treated here with so much indulgence, 
I must confess that the lady annoyed me beyond 
measure, and that I really preferred the angry 
cuffing and slapping of Dona Francisca to Dona 
Flora's mawkish attentions. This was very natural ; 
for her ill-timed caresses, her prudery, the per- 
sistency with which she invited m^y presence, declar- 
ing that she was delighted with me and my conver- 
sation, prevented my going with my master on his 
visits to the different ships. A servant of the 
house accompanied him on these delightful expe- 
ditions, while I, deprived of the liberty to run 
about Cadiz as I longed to be doing, was left at 
home, sick of life, in the society of Dona Flora's 
parrot and of the gentlemen who came every 
evening to announce whether or no the fleets 
would quit the bay, with other matters less to the 
purpose and far more trivial. 


My vexation rose to desperation when I saw 
Marcial come to the house, and he and my master 
went out together, though not to embark finally ; 
and when, after seeing them start, my forlorn 
spirit lost the last faint hope of being one of the 
party, Doiia Flora took it into her head that she 
must have me to walk with her to the Alameda 
and then to church to attend vespers. This was 
more than I could bear and I began to dream of 
the possibility of putting a bold scheme into exe- 
cution ; of going, namely, on my own account to 
see one of the ships, hoping that, on the quay, I 
might meet some sailor of my acquaintance who- 
would be persuaded to take me. 

I went out with the old lady and as we went 
along the ramparts I tried to linger to look at the 
ships, but I could not abandon myself to the en- 
joyment of the spectacle for I had to answer the 
hundred questions with which Dona Flora per- 
sistently persecuted me. In the course of our 
walk we were joined by some young men and a 
few older ones. They all seemed very conceited, 
and were the most fashionable men of Cadiz, all 
extremely witty and elegantly dressed. Some of 
them were poets, or — to be accurate — wrote 
verses though sorry ones, and I fancied I heard 
them talking of some Academy where they met to 


fire shots at each other in rhyme, an amusement 
which could break no bones. 

As I observed all that was going on round me, 
their extraordinary appearance fixed my attention 
— their effeminate gestures and, above all, their 
clothes, which to me looked preposterous. There 
were not many persons who dressed in this style 
in Cadiz ; and, reflecting afterwards on the differ- 
ence between their costume and the ordinary 
clothes of the people I was in the habit of seeing^ 
I understood that it was that men in general 
wore the Spanish habit while Dona Flora's friends 
followed the fashions of Madrid or of Paris. The 
first thing to attract my attention were their walk- 
ing-sticks, which were twisted and knotted 
cudgels, with enormous knobs. Their chins were 
invisible, being hidden by the cravat, a kind of 
shawl wrapped round and round the throat and 
brought across below the lips so as to form a pro- 
tuberance — a basket, a dish, or, better still, a 
barber's basin — in which the chin was quite lost. 
Their hair was dressed Avith elaborate disorder, 
looking as if it had been done with a birch-broom 
rather than with a comb. The corners of their 
hats came down to their shoulders ; their coats, 
extremely short- waisted, almost swept the ground 
■with their skirts ; their boots were pointed at the 


toes ; dozens of seals and trinkets hung from their 
waistcoat pockets ; their breeches, which were 
striped, were fastened at the knee with a wide 
ribbon, and to put the finishing stroke to these 
figures of fun, each carried an eye-glass which, in 
the course of conversation, was constantly applied 
to the right eye, half-closing the left, though 
they would have seen perfectly well by using 
both. ' 

The conversation of these gentlemen, also, 
turned on the plans of the fleet, but they varied it 
by discussing some ball or entertainment which 
they talked of a great deal, and one of them was 
the object of the greatest admiration for the per- 
fection with which he cut capers, and the lightness 
of his heels in dancing the gavotte. 

After chattering for some time the whole 
party followed Dona Flora into the church del 
Carmen, and there, each one pulling out a rosary, 
they remained praying with much energy for 
some little time, and one of them, I remember, 
gave me a smart rap on the top of my head be- 
cause, instead of attending devoutly to my prayers 
like them, I was paying too much attention to 
two flies that were buzzing round the topmost 
curl of Dona Flora's structure of hair. After 
listening to a tiresome sermon, which the)'^ praised 


as a magnificent oration, we went out again, and 
resumed our promenade ; the chat was soon more 
lively than ever ; for we were joined by some 
other ladies dressed in the same style and among" 
them all there was such a noisy hubbub of com- 
pliments, fine speeclies, and witticisms, with here 
and there an insipid epigram, that I could gather 
nothing from it all. 

And all this time Marcial and my dear master 
were arranging the day and hour when they 
should embark ! While I was perhaps doomed 
to remain on shore to gratify the whims of this 
old woman whom I positively loathed, with her 
odious petting ! Would you believe that that 
very evening she insisted on it that I must remain 
forever in her service ? Would you believe that 
she declared that she was very fond of me, and in 
proof of the fact kissed me and fondled me, de- 
siring me to be sure to tell no one ? Horrible 
spite of fate ! I could not help thinking what my 
feelings would have been if m.y young mistress 
had treated me in such a fashion. I was confused 
to the last degree ; however, I told her that I 
wished to join the fleet, and that when I came 
back she might keep me if it was her fancy, but 
that if she did not allow me to have my wish I 
should hate her as much as that — and I spread 


my arms out wide to express the immensity of 
my aversion. 

Then, as my master came in unexpectedly, I 
thought it a favorable opportunity for gaining my 
purpose by a sudden stroke of oratory which I 
had hastily prepared ; I fell on my knees at his 
feet, declaring in pathetic accents, that if he did 
not take me on board with him 1 should fling my- 
self into the sea in despair. 

My master laughed at this performance and 
his cousin, pursing her lips, affected amusement 
with a grimace which made her sallow wrinkled 
face uglier than ever ; but, finally, she consented. 
She gave me a heap of sweetmeats to eat on 
board, charged me to keep out of the way of dan- 
ger, and did not say another word against my em- 
barking, as we did veiy early next morning. 



It was the i8th of October. I can have no 
doubt as to the date because the fleet sailed out of 
the bay next day. We rose very early and went 
down to the quay, where a boat was waiting to 
carry us on board. 

Imagine if you can my surprise — nay surprise 
do I say? — my enthusiasm, my rapture, when I 
found myself on board the Sajitisima Trinidady 
the largest vessel on the main, that floating for- 
tress of timber which, seen from a distance, had 
appeared to my fancy some portentous and super- 
natural creature ; such a monster as alone was 
worthy of the majesty of the seas. Each time 
our boat passed under the side of a ship I examined 
it with a sort of religious astonishment, won- 
dering to see the hulls so huge that from the ram- 
parts had looked so small ; and in the wild enthu- 
siasm that possessed me I ran the greatest danger 
of falling into the water as I gazed in ecstasy at a 
figurehead — an object which fascinated me more 
than anything else. 

At last we reached the Santisima Trinidad. 


As we approached, the colossal mass loomed larger 
and larger, and when the launch pulled up along- 
side, lost in the black transparent void made where 
its vast shadow fell upon the water — when I saw 
the huge hulk lying motionless on the dark waves 
which gently plashed against the side — when I 
looked up and saw the three tiers of cannon with 
their threatening muzzles thrust through the port- 
holes — my excitement was changed to fear ; I 
turned pale and sat silent and motionless by my 
master's side. 

But when we went up the side and stood on 
deck my spirits rose. The intricate and lofty 
rigging, the busy scene on the quarter-deck, the 
open view of the sky and bay, the perfect order of 
everything on deck, from the hammocks lashed in 
a row to the bulwarks, to the capstans, shells, 
windsails and hatchways; the variety of uniforms — 
everything I saw, in short, amazed me to such a 
degree that for some time I stood blankly gazing 
at the stupendous structure heedless of all else. 
You can form no idea of any of those magnificent 
vessels, much less of the Santisima Trinidad, 
from the wretched prints I have seen of them. 
Still less, again, from the ships of war of the pres- 
ent day, covered with ponderous plates of iron, 
heavy looking, uninteresting and black, with nc> 


visible details on their vast sides, looking to me 
for all the world like enormous floating coffins. 
Invented by a materialistic age and calculated to 
suit the naval science of a time when steam has 
superseded manual labor, and the issue of a sea- 
fight is decided by the force and impetus of the 
vessels, our ships are now mere fighting-machines, 
while those of that day were literally Men-of-War, 
wielding all the implements of attack and defence 
but trusting mainly to skill and valor. 

I, who not only see, but observe, have always 
been in the habit of associating — perhaps to an 
extravagant extent — ideas and images, things and 
persons, which in appearance seem most dissimi- 
lar or antagonistic. When, at a later period, I saw 
the cathedrals — Gothic, as they call them — of 
Castile and of Flanders, and noted the impressive 
majesty with which those perfect and elaborate 
structures stand up among the buildings of more 
modern style, built only for utility — such as banks, 
hospitals, and barracks — I could never help re- 
membering all the various kinds of vessels that I 
have seen in the course of a long life, and com- 
paring the old ones to those Gothic cathedrals. 
Their curves, so gracefully prolonged, the pre- 
dominence of vertical over horizontal lines, a cer- 
tain indefinable poetry about them — not histori- 


cal only but religious too — underlying the 
complication of details and the play of colors 
brought out by the caprices of the sunshine, are, 
no doubt, what led to this far-fetched association 
of ideas — the result in my mind of the romantic 
impressions of my childhood. 

The Santisinia Trinidad had four decks ; the 
largest ships in the World had but three. This 
giant, constructed at Havana, in 1769, of the 
finest woods of Cuba, could reckon thirty-six 
years of honorable service. She measured 220 
feet from stem to stern, 58 feet in the waist, that 
is to say in width, and 28 feet deep from the keel 
to the deck, measurements which no other vessel 
at the time could approach. Her huge ribs, which 
were a perfect forest, supported four decks. When 
she was first built 116 port-holes gaped in her 
sides which were thick walls of timber ; after she 
was enlarged in 1796 she had 130, and when she 
was newly fitted in 1805 she was made to carry 
140 guns, cannons and carronades. The interior 
was a marvel of arrangement; there were decks 
for the guns, the forecastle for the crew, holds for 
stores of all kinds, state-cabins for the officers, the 
galley, the cock-pit and other offices. I was quite 
bewildered as I ran through the passages and end- 
less nooks of this floating fortress. The stern cabins 


on the main deck were a little palace within, and 
outside like some fantastic castle ; the galleries, the 
flag-turrets at the corners of the poop — exactly 
like the oriels of a Gothic tower — looked like huge 
cages open to the sea, whence the eye could com- 
mand three quarters of the horizon. 

Nothing could be grander than the rigging — 
those gigantic masts thrust up to heaven like a men- 
ace to the storm. It was difficult to believe that 
the wind could have strength enough to fill those 
vast sails. The eye lost its way and became weary 
in gazing at the maze of the rigging with the 
shrouds, stays, braces, halyards, and other ropes 
used to haul and reef the various sails. 

I was standing lost in the contemplation of all 
these wonders when I felt a heavy hand on the 
nape of my neck ; I thought the main-mast had 
fallen on the top of me. I turned round in alarm 
and gave a cry of horror at seeing a man who 
was now holding me by the ears as if he were go- 
ing to lift me up by them. It was my uncle. 

" What are you doing here, Vermin !" he asked, 
in the amiable tone that was habitual with him. 
" Do you want to learn the service ? Hark ye 
Juan," he added, turning to a sailor of most sinis- 
ter aspect, " send this landlubber up to the main- 
yard to take a walk there." 


I excused myself as best I might from the 
pleasure of taking a walk on the main-yard, ex- 
plaining that I was body-servant to Don Alonso 
Gutierrez de Cisniega and had come on board 
with him. Three or four sailors, my affectionate 
uncle's particular friends, wanted to torment me 
so I decided on quitting their distinguished society 
and went off to the cabin in search of my master. 
An officer's toilet is no less elaborate on board 
than on shore, and when I saw the valets busied 
in powdering the heads of the heroes they waited 
on, I could not help asking myself whether this 
was not, of all occupations, the least appropriate 
in a man-of-war, when every minute was precious 
and where everything that was not directly ser- 
viceable to the working of the ship was a hin- 
drance. However, fashion was as tyrannical then 
as now,' and even at such a moment as this en- 
forced her absurd and inconvenient rules witli 
inexorable rigor. The private soldiers even had 
to waste their valuable time in tying their pig- 
tails, poor men ! I saw them standing in a line, 
one behind another, each one at work on the pig- 
tail of the man in front of him ; by which ingeni- 
ous device the operation was got through in 
a short space of time. Then they stuck on their 
fur hats, a ponderous head-piece the use of which 


no one was ever able to explain to me, and went 
to their posts if they were on duty or to pace the 
deck if they were not. The sailors did not wear 
this ridiculous queue of hair and I do not see that 
their very sensible costume has been altered to 
any great extent since that time. 

In the cabin I found my master eagerly con- 
versing with the captain in command of the ship, 
Don Francisco Xavier de Uriarte, and the com- 
mander of the squadron, Don Baltasar Hidalgo de 
Cisneros. From what I overheard I could have 
no doubt that the French admiral had ordered the 
fleets to put out to sea the next morning. 

Marcial was highly delighted at this, and he 
and a knot of veteran sailors who held council on 
their own account in the forecastle, discoursed 
grandiloquently on the imminent fight. Their 
society suited me far better than that of my amia- 
ble uncle, for Marcial's companions indulged in no 
horse-play at my expense ; and this difference was 
of itself enough to mark the difference of training 
in the two classes of sailors ; for the old sea-dogs 
were of the pure breed originally levied as volun- 
tary recruits ; while the others were pressed men, 
almost without exception lazy, refractory, of low 
habits, and ignorant of the service. 

I made much better friends with the former 


than with these and was always present at Mar- 
cial's conferences. If I did not fear to weary the 
reader, I might report the explanation he gave us 
that day of the diplomatical and political causes of 
the war — a most comical parody of all he had 
heard said, a few nights previously, by Malespina 
at my master's house. I learnt from him that 
my young mistress' lover was on board the 

All these colloquies came round at last to the 
same point, the impending battle. The fleet was 
to sail out of the bay next morning — what joy I 
To ride the seas in this immense vessel — the 
largest in the world ; to witness a fight at sea ; to 
see what a battle was like, how cannon were fired,, 
how the enemy's ships were taken — what a 
splendid triumph ! and then to return to Cadiz 
covered with glory. — To say afterwards to all 
who cared to hear : " Yes, I was there, I was on 
board, I saw it all...." To tell Rosita too, 
describing the glorious scene, winning her atten- 
tion, her curiosity, her interest. — To say to her: 
*' Oh yes ! I was in the most dangerous places 
and I was not afraid;" — and to see her turn 
pale with alarm, or faint, as she heard my tale of 
the horrors of the battle — and then to look down 
in contempt on all who would ask me : " Tell us,, 


Gabrielito, was it so terrible after all ?" — All this 
was more than enough to fire my imagination, 
and I may frankly say that I would not, that day, 
have changed places with Nelson himself 

The morning of the 19th dawned, the day I 
hailed so eagerly ; indeed it had not yet dawned 
when I found myself at the stern of the vessel 
with my master, who wanted to look on at the 
working of the ship. After clearing the decks the 
business of starting the ship began. The huge 
topsails were hoisted, and the heavy windlass, 
turning with a shrill clatter, dragged the anchor 
up from the bottom of the bay. The sailors 
clambered along the yards, while others handled 
the braces, obedient to the boatswain's call ; and 
all the ship's voices, hitherto mute, filled the air 
with threatening outcries. The whistles, the bell, 
the discordant medley of men's voices, mixed 
with the creaking of the blocks, the humming of 
the ropes, the flapping of the sails as they thrashed 
tlie mast before they caught the wind — all these 
various sounds filled the air as the huge ship got 
under way. The bright ripples seemed to caress 
her sides, and the majestic monster made her way 
out o^ the bay without the slightest roll or even 
lurch, with a slow and solemn advance which was 
only perceptible to those on board by watching 


the apparent motion of the merchantmen lying at 
anchor and the landscape beyond. 

At this moment I stood looking back at the 
scene behind us. And what a scene it was ! 
Thirty-two men-of-war, five frigates, and two 
brigantines, Spanish and French together — some 
in front, some behind, and some abreast of us — 
were bursting into sail, as it were, and riding be- 
fore the light breeze. I never saw a lovelier 
morning. The sun flooded those lovely shores 
with light ; a faint purple tinge colored the sea to 
the east, and the chain of hills which bound the 
horizon on the side of the town seemed to be on 
fire in the sunrise ; the sky was perfectly clear ex- 
cepting where, in the east, a k\v rose and golden 
clouds floated above the horizon. The blue sea 
was calm, and over that sea and beneath that sky 
the forty ships with their white sails rode forward, 
one of the noblest fleets that human eyes ever 
rested on. 

The vessels did not all sail with equal speed. 
Some got ahead, others were slow to get under 
way ; some gained upon us, while we passed others. 
The solemnity of their advance, the height of their 
masts, covered with canvas, and a vague anCl ob- 
scure harmony which my childish ears fancied they 
could detect proceeding from those glorious hulls — 


a kind of hymn, which was no doubt the efifect of 
my own imagination — the loveHness of the day, 
the crispness of the air, the beauty of the sea, 
which seemed to be dancing with joy outside the 
gulf at the approach of the vessels — all formed 
the grandest picture that the mind of man can 
conceive of 

Cadiz, itself, like a moving panorama, unfolded 
itself before our eyes, displaying in turn every as- 
pect of its vast amphitheatre. The low sun, il- 
luminating the glass in its myriad v/indows, 
sprinkled it with living sparks of gold, and its 
buildings lay so purely white above the blue 
water that it looked as if it might have been that 
moment called into being, or raised from the sea 
like the fanciful city of San Genaro. I could see 
the wall extending from the mole as far as the fort 
of Santa Catalina ; I could distinguish the bastions 
of Bonete and Orejon, and recognize the Calcta ; 
and my pride rose as I reflected what I had risen 
from and where I now was. At the same time the 
sound of the bells of the waking city came to my 
ear like some mysterious music, calling the in- 
habitants to early mass, with all the confused 
clamor of the bells of a large town. Now they 
seemed to me to ring gladly, and send good wishes 
after us — I listened to them as if they were human 


voices bidding us God-speed ; then again they 
tolled sadly and dolefully — a knell of misfortune; 
and as we sailed further and further away their 
music grew fainter till it was lost in space. 

The fleet slowly made its way out of the bay — 
some of the ships taking several hours in getting 
fairly to sea. Marcial meanwhile made his com- 
ments on each, watching their behavior, laughing 
them to scorn if they were clumsy, and encourag- 
ing them with paternal advice if they were swift 
and well-handled. 

" What a lump that Don Federico is !" he ex- 
claimed as he looked at the Principe de Asturias 
commanded by Gravina. " There goes Mr. Cor- 
netal" he exclaimed as he saw the Buceftiaure w\\h 
Villeneuve on board. " He was a clever man that 
called you the Rayo !'' (Thunderbolt) he cried 
ironically, as he watched the ship so named, which 
was the least manageable of all the fleet. " Well 
done Papa Ignacio !'' he added, pointing to the 
Santa Ana commanded by Alava. 

" Hoist your topsail properly, senseless oaf!" 
he went on, addressing Dumanoir's ship, Lc For- 
midable. "That Frenchman keeps a hair-dresser 
to crimp the topsail and to clew up the sails with 
curling tongs !" 

Towards evening the sky clouded over, and as 


night fell we could see Cadiz, already at a great 
distance, gradually vanish in the mist till the last 
faint outline became one with the darkness. The 
fleet then steered to the Southward. 

All night I kept close to Marcial, as soon as I 
had seen my master comfortably settled in hi.s 
cabin. The old sailor, eagerly listened to by a 
couple of veteran comrades and admirers, was ex- 
plaining Villeneuve's plan of battle. 

" Mr. Corne^a," said he, " has divided the fleet 
into four lines. The vanguard led by Alava con- 
sists of six vessels ; the centre, likewise of six, is 
commanded by Mr. Corncta in person ; the rear,, 
again of six, is under Dumanoir, and the reserve 
of twelve ships is led by Don Federico. This 
seems to me not badly planned. I imagine that 
the French and Spanish ships are mixed, in order 
that they may not leave us impaled on the bull's 
horns as they did at Finisterre. 

" From what Don Alfonso tells me the French- 
man says that if the enemy comes up to leeward 
we are to form in line of battle and attack at 
once. . . . This is very pretty talk in the state- 
room ; but do you think the SeJlorito will be such 
a booby as to come up to leeward of us? Oh 
yes — his lordship has not much brains in his 
figure-head and is sure to let himself be caught in 


that trap ! Well ! we shall see — if we see, what 
the Frenchman expects ! — If the enemy gets to 
windward and attacks us we are to receive him in 
line of battle, and as he must divide to attack if 
he does not succeed in breaking our line, it will be 
quite easy to beat him. Everything is easy to Mr. 
Cor7ieta (applause). He says too that he shall give 
no signals, but expects every captain to do his 
best. If we should see what I have always pro- 
phesied, ever since that accursed subsidy treaty, 
and that is — but I had better hold my tongue. — 
Please God. . . . ! Well I have always told you that 
Mr. Corneta does not understand the weapons he 
has in his hands ; there is not room in his head for 
fifty ships. What can you think of an admiral, 
who, the day before a battle, sends for his captains 
and teUs each of them to do what he thinks will 
win the day. — After that ! (Strong expressions of 
sympathy). However, we shall see what we shall 
see. — But do you just tell me: If we Spanish 
want to scuttle a few of those English ships, are 
we not strong enough and many enough to do it ? 
Then why in the world need we ally ourselves with 
the French, who would not allow us to do any- 
thing we had a mind to, but would have us danc- 
ing attendance at the end of their tow-line ? 
Whenever we have had to work with them they 


have got us into mischief and we have had the 
worst of it. Well — may God and the H0I3/ Vir- 
gin del Cdrj/icn be on our side, and rid us of our 
French friends for ever and ever, Amen." (Great 

All his audience agreed heartily ; the discus- 
sion was continued till a late hour, rising from the 
details of naval warfare to the science of diplomacy. 
The night was fine and we ran before a fresh 
breeze — I must be allowed to say " IVe" in 
speaking of the fleet. I was so proud of finding 
myself on board the Santisinia Trinidad that I 
began to fancy that I was called to play some im- 
portant part on this great occasion, and I could 
not forbear from swaggering about among the 
sailors to let them see that I was not there for 



On the morning of the 20th there was a stiff 
breeze blowing and the vessels kept at some dis- 
tance from each other ; but as the wind had mod- 
erated soon after noon the admiral signalled that 
the ships were to form in five lines — the van, 
centre, and rear, and two lines of reserve. I was 
enchanted with watching the docile monsters, 
obediently taking their places ; for, although the 
conditions of naval manoeuvres did not admit of 
great rapidity nor of perfect uniformity in the line, 
it was impossible to see them without admiration. 
The wind was from the southwest, according to 
Marcial, and the fleet, catching the breeze on the 
starboard quarter, ran towards the straits. Dur- 
ing the night a few lights were seen and by dawn 
on the 2 1 St we saw twenty-seven ships to wind- 
ward, among which Marcial pointed out three as 
three-deckers. By eight o'clock the thirty-three 
vessels of the enemy's fleet were in sight, forming 
two columns. Our fleet displayed a wide front, 
and to all appearance Nelson's two columns, ad- 
vancing in a wedge, were coming down upon us 


SO as to cut our lines through the centre and 

This was the position of the hostile fleets 
when the Buccntaurc signalled that we were to put 
about ; maybe you do not understand this. It 
means that we were to turn completely round and 
that whereas the wind was on our port side it 
would now be on the starboard, so that we should 
sail in the opposite direction. The ships' heads 
were now turned northwards and this manoeuvre, 
which was intended to place us to windward of 
Cadiz so that we might reach it in case of disaster, 
was severely criticised on board the Trinidad, 
especially by Marcial, who said : 

" The line of battle is all broken up ; it was- 
bad before and is worse now." 

In point of fact what had been the vanguard 
was now in the rear and the reserve ships, which 
as I heard said, were the best, were hindmost of 
all. The wind had fallen and the ships, being of 
various tonnage and inefificiently manned, the new 
line could not form with due precision ; some of 
the vessels moved quickly and rushed forward ; 
others went slowly, hanging back or losing their 
course, and forming a wide gap that broke the 
line before the ene'my took the trouble of doing 


" Reform the line" was now the signal ; but^ 
though a good ship answers her helm with won- 
derful docility, it is not so easy to manage as a 
horse. As he stood watching the movements of 
the ships nearest to us, Marcial observed : " The 
line is wider than the milky- way. If the Sciiorito 
cuts through it. Heaven help us ! we shall not be 
able to sail in any sort of order ; they will shave 
our heads for us if they fire upon us. They are 
going to give us a dose through the centre and 
how can the San Juan and the Bahama come up 
to support us from the rear — or the Neptuno and 
the Rayo which are in front. (Murmurs of ap- 
plause.) Besides, here we are to leeward and the 
' great-coats' can pick and choose where they will 
attack us, while all we can do is to defend our- 
selves as best we may. All I have to say is : God 
get us well out of the scrape and deliver us from 
the French for ever and ever. Amen." 

The sun had now nearly reached the meridian 
and the enemy was coming down upon us. 

" And is this a proper hour to begin a battle ?" 
asked the old sailor indignantly. " Twelve o'clock 
in the day !" 

But he did not dare to express his views pub- 
licly and these discussions were confined to a 
small circle into which I, with my eternal and in- 


satiable curiosity, had squeezed myself. I do not 
know why, but it seemed to me that there was an 
expression of dissatisfaction on every face. The 
officers on the quarter-deck, and the sailors and 
non-commissioned officers at the bows, stood 
Avatching the ships to leeward, quite out of the 
line of battle, four of which ought to have been in 
the centre. 

I forgot to mention one preliminary in which 
I myself had borne a hand. Early in the morn- 
ing the decks were cleared for action, and when 
all was ready for serving the guns and working 
the ship, I heard some one say: "The sand — 
bring the sand." Marcial pulled me by the ear, 
and taking me to one of the hatchways set me in 
a line with some of the pressed men, ship's boys, 
and other supernumeraries. A number of sailors 
were posted on the ladders from the hatchway to 
the hold and between decks, and in this way were 
hauling up sacks of sand. Each man handed one 
to the man next to him and so it was passed on 
without much labor. A great quantity of sacks 
were thus brought up from hand to hand, and to 
my great astonishment they were emptied out on 
the upper deck, the poop, and the forecastle, the 
sand being spread about so as to cover all the 
planking ; and the same thing was done between 



decks. My curiosity prompted me to ask the 
boy who stood next to me what this was for. 

"For the blood," he said very coolly. 

" For the blood !" I exclaimed unable to re- 
press a shudder. I looked at the sand — I looked 
at the men who were busily employed at this task 
— and for a moment I felt I was a coward. How- 
ever, my imagination reverted to the ideas which 
had previously filled it, and relieved my mind of 
its alarms ; I thought no more of anything but 
victory and a happy issue. 

Everything was ready for serving the guns 
and the ammunition was passed up from the store- 
rooms to the decks by a chain of men, like that 
which had brought up the sand-bags. 

The English advanced to attack us in two 
sections. One came straight down upon us, and 
at its head, which was the point of the wedge, 
sailed a large ship carrying the admiral's flag. 
This, as I afterwards learned, was the Victory, 
commanded by Nelson. At the head of the other 
line was the Royal Soverrign, commanded by 
CoUingwood. All these names, and the strategical 
plan of the battle, were not known to me till later. 

My recollections, which are vividly distinct as 
to all the graphic and picturesque details, fail me 
with regard to the scheme of action which was 


beyond my comprehension at the time. All that 
I picked from Marcial, combined with what I sub- 
sequently learnt, sufficed to give me a good idea 
of the arrangement of our fleets; and for the 
better intelligence of the reader I give in the 
next page a list of our ships, indicating the gaps 
left by those that had not come up, and the 
nationality of each. 

It was now a quarter to twelve. The fatal 
moment was approaching. The anxiety was 
general, and I do not speak merely from what 
was going on in my own mind, for I was ab- 
sorbed in watching the ship which was said 
to contain Nelson, and for some time was 
hardly aware of what was going on round me. 

Suddenly a terrible order was given by our 
captain — the boatswains repeated it ; the sailors 
flew to the tops; the blocks and ropes creaked, the 
topsails flapped in the wind. 

" Take in sail !" cried Marcial, with a good 
round oath. "The infernal idiot is making us 
work back." 

And then I understood that the Trinidad was 
to slacken her speed so as to run alongside of the 
Bucentmire, because the Victory seemed to be 
talcing measures to run in between those two ships 
and so cut the line in the middle. 
9 * 


San Augustin, Sp. 

Le Heros, Fr 

Victory Trinidad, Sp. 

Nelson. Le Bucentaure, Fr, 

Neptmie, Fr. 

Leandro, Sp. 
Sovereign Juste, Sp. 

Collingwood. L'Indomptable, Fr 

-> Santa Ana, Sp 


Bahama, Sp. . . . 
L'Aigle, Fr. 

Montanes, Sp. 

Algeciras, Sp. . 

Argonauta, Sp. . 

SwiftsLire, Fr. . . . 

L'Argonaute, Fr. 

Principe de Asturias, Sp. 

Le Berwick, Fr 

Nepomuceno, Sp 


Neptuno, Sp 

Le Scipion, Fr 

Rayo, Sp 

Le Formidable, Fr ^ p 

Le Uuguay Trouin, Fr 

Le Mont Blanc, Fr 

Asis, Sp 

Le Redoutable, Fr ^ 

L'Intrepide, Fr. 

oaiiLct /^lid, op , rt 

Le Fougueux, Fr | ^ 

Monarca, Sp j 

Le Pluton, Fr J 

Ildefonso, Sp f< 

L'Achille, Fr. 


In watching the working of our vessel I could 
see that a great many of the crew had not that 
nimble ease which is usually characteristic of 
sailors who, like Marcial, are familiar with war 
and tempests. Among the soldiers several were 
suffering from sea-sickness and were clinging to 
the ropes to save themselves from falling. There 
were among them many brave souls, especially 
among the volunteers, but for the most part they 
were impressed men, obeying orders with an ill- 
will and not feeling, I am very sure, the smallest 
impulse of patriotism. As I afterwards learnt, 
nothing but the battle itself made them worthy to 
fight. In spite of the wide differences in the moral 
stamp of all these men, I believe that during the 
solemn moments that immediately preceded the 
first shot a thought of God came to every mortal 

So far as I am concerned, in all my life my 
soul has never gone through any experiences, to 
compare with those of that hour. In spite of my 
youth, I was quite capable of understanding the 
gravity of the occasion, and for the first time in 
my life, my mind was filled with grand ideas, lofty 
aspirations and heroic thoughts. A conviction 
that we must conquer was so firmly rooted in my 
mind that I felt quite pitiful towards the English, 


and wondered to see them so eagerly advancing to 
certain destruction. For the first time too I fully 
understood the ideal of patriotism, and my heart 
responded to the thought with a glow of feeling- 
such as I had never experienced before. Until 
now my mother-country had been embodied in 
my mind in the persons of its rulers — such as the 
King and his famous minister, for whom I felt dif- 
ferent degrees of respect. As I knew no more of 
history than I had picked up in the streets, it was to 
me a matter of course that everybody's enthusiasm 
must be fired by knowing that the Spaniards had,, 
once upon a time, killed a great number of Moors, 
and, since then, swarms of French and of English. 
I considered my countrymen as models of valor; 
but valor, as I conceived of it, was as like barbar- 
ity as one egg is like another ; and with such 
ideas as these, patriotism had been to me nothing 
more than boastful pride in belonging to a race of 
exterminators of Moors. 

But in the pause that preceded the battle I un- 
derstood the full significance of that divine word ; 
the conception of nationality, of devotion to a 
mother-country, was suddenly born in my soul, 
lighting it up, as it were, and revealing a thousand 
wonderful possibilities — as the rising sun dissi- 
pates the darkness that has hidden a beautiful 


landscape. I* thouglit of my native land as a vast 
place full of people all united in brotherly regard 
— of society as divided into families, married 
couples to be held together, and children to be 
educated — of honor, to be cherished and defended; 
I imagined an unspoken agreement among all 
these human beings to help and protect each other 
against any attack from without, and I understood 
that these vessels had been constructed by them 
all for the defence of their native land ; that is to 
say, for the soil on which they lived, tlie fields 
watered by their sweat, the homes where their an- 
cestors had dwelt, the gardens where their chil- 
dren played, the colonies discovered and conquered 
by their forefathers, the harbors where their ships 
found shelter after long voyages — the magazines 
where they stored their wealth — the Church which 
was the mausoleum of those they had loved, the 
dwelling-place of their saints, and the ark of their 
belief — the public places where they might take 
their pleasure, the priv^ate homes where the vener- 
able household gods, handed down from generation 
to generation, seemed to symbolize the perpetuity 
of the nation — their family hearth round which the 
smoke- dyed walls seem still to re-echo with the 
time-honored legends with which the grand dame 
soothes the flightiness or the naughtiness of the 


little ones, the street where friendly faces meet 
and smile — the field, the sea, the sky — every- 
thing which from the moment of birth makes up 
the sum of existence, from the crib of a pet animal 
to the time-honored throne of the king ; every ob- 
ject into which the soul seems to go forth to live, 
as if the body that clothes it were too narrow a 

I believed too that the disputes between Spain 
and France or England were always about some- 
thing that those countries ought to give up to us, 
and in which Spain could not, on the whole, be 
wrong. Her self-defence seemed to me as legiti- 
mate as tlie aggression was brutal ; and as I had 
always heard that justice must triumph, I never 
doubted of victory. Looking up at our red and 
yellow flag — the colors nearest to that of fire — 
I felt my bosom swell, and could not restrain a 
few tears of enthusiasm and excitement ; I thought 
of Cadiz, of Vejer, of the whole Spanish nation 
assembled, as it were, on a vast platform and 
looking on with eager anxiety ; and all this tide 
of emotion lifted up my heart to God to whom I 
put up a prayer, which was neither a Paternoster 
nor an Ave, but a gush of inspiration that came 
to me at the moment. 

A sudden shock startled me from my ecstasy. 


terrifying me with its violent vibration. The first 
broadside had been fired. 


A VESSEL in the rear had been the first to fire 
on the Royal Sovereign, commanded by CoUing- 
wood, and while that ship carried on the fight 
with the Santa Ana the Victory came down on 
us. On board the Trinidad every one was 
anxious to open fire ; but our captain would not 
give the word till he saw a favorable opportunity. 
Meanwhile, as if the ships were in such close com- 
munication that a slow-match was lighted from 
one to the other, the fire ran along from the Santa 
Ana in the middle, to each end of the line. 

The Victory fired first on the Redontable, and 
being repulsed, came up to the windward of the 
Trinidad. The moment had come for us ; a 
hundred voices cried "fire!" — loudly echoing the 
word of command, and fifty round-shot were 
hurled against the flank of the English man-of- 
war. For a minute I could see nothing of the 
enemy for the smoke, while he, as if blind with 


rage, came straight down upon us before the wind. 
Just within gun-shot he put the ship about and 
gave us a broadside. In the interval between our 
firing and theirs, our crew, who had taken note of 
the damage done to the enemy, had gained in 
enthusiasm. The guns were rapidly served, 
though not without some hitches owing to want 
of experience in some of the gunners. Marcial 
would have been only too glad to undertake the 
management of one of the cannon, but his muti- 
lated body was not equal to the heroism of his 
spirit. He was forced to be satisfied with super- 
intending the delivery of the charges and encour- 
aging the gunners by word and gesture. 

The Buccjitaurc, just at our stern, was, like us, 
firing on the Victory and the Tcmcrait'c, another 
powerful English vessel. It seemed as though 
the Victory must fall into our hands, for the Trini- 
dad's fire had cut her tackle to pieces, and we saw 
with pride that her mizzen-mast had gone by the 

In the excitement of this first onslaught I 
scarcely perceived that some of our men were 
wounded or killed. I had chosen a place where 
I thought I should be least in the way, and never 
took my eyes off the captain who stood on the 
quarter-deck, issuing his orders v\'ith heroic cool- 


ness ; and I wondered to see my master, no less 
calm though less enthusiastic, encouraging the 
officers and men in his quavering voice. 

" Ah !" said I to myself, " if only Dona Fran- 
cisca could see him now !" 

I am bound to confess that at times I felt 
desperately frightened, and would gladly have 
hidden myself at the very bottom of the hold, 
while, at others, I was filled with an almost deli- 
rious courage, when I longed to see the glorious 
spectacle from the most dangerous posts. How- 
ever, I will set aside my own insignificant indi- 
viduality and relate the most terrible crisis of our 
fight with the Victory. The Trinidad was doing 
her immense mischief when the Taneraire, by a 
wonderfully clever manoeuvre, slipped in between 
the two vessels thus sheltering her consort from 
our fire. She then proceeded to cut through the 
line behind the Triiiidad, and as the Bucentaure, 
under fire, had got so close alongside of the Trin- 
idad that their yards touched, there was a wide 
space beyond into which the Tcmeraire rushed 
down and, going about immediately, came up on 
our lee and delivered a broadside on that quarter, 
till then untouched. At the same time the Nep- 
tune, another large English ship, ran in where the 
Victory had previously been, while the Victory 


veered round so that, in a few minutes, the Trini- 
dad was surrounded by the enemy and riddled on 
ail sides. 

From my master's face, from Uriarte's heroic 
fury, and from a volley of oaths delivered by Mar- 
cial and his friends, I understood that we were lost 
and the idea of defeat was anguish to my soul. 
The line of the combined fleets was broken at 
several points, and the bad order in which they 
had formed after turning round, gave place to the 
most disastrous confusion. We were surrounded 
by the enemy whose artillery kept up a perfect 
hail of round and grape-shot on our ship, and on 
the Bticentaure as well. The Agustin, the Heros, 
and the Leatidro were engaged at some distance 
from us where they had rather more sea-room, 
while the Trinidad, and the Admiral's ship, ut- 
terly hemmed in and driven to extremities by the 
genius of the great Nelson, were fighting heroically 
— no longer in hopes of a victory which was im- 
possible but anxious, at any rate, to perish glori- 

The white hairs which now cover my old head 
almost stand on end as I remember those terrible 
hours, from two to four in the afternoon. I think 
of those five ships, not as mere machines of war 
obeying the will of man, but as living giants, huge 


creatures fighting on their own account, carried 
into action by their sails as though they were ac- 
tive Hmbs and using the fearful artillery they bore 
in their sides for their personal defence. As I 
looked at them then, my fancy could not help per- 
sonifying them and to this hour I feel as though I 
could see them coming up, defying each other, 
going about to fire a broadside, rushing furiously 
up to board, drawing back to gather more force, 
mocking or threatening the enemy; — I can 
fancy them expressing their suffering when 
wounded or loftily breathing their last, like a 
gladiator who in his agony forgets not the dignity 
which beseems him; — I can imagine that I hear 
the voices of the crews like the murmur of an 
oppressed sufferer, sometimes eager with enthu- 
siasm, sometimes a dull roar of desperation the 
precursor of destruction, sometimes a hymn of 
triumph in anticipation of victory, or a hideous 
storm of voices lost in space and giving way to 
the awful silence of disgrace and defeat. 

The scene on board the Santisima Trinidad 
was nothing short of infernal. All attempt at 
working the ship had been abandoned, for it did 
not and could not move. The only thing to be 
done was to serve the guns with the utmost 
rapidity, and to do as much damage to the enemy 


as they had done to us. The Enghsh small-shot 
rent the sails just as if huge and invisible nails 
were tearing slits in them. The splinters of tim- 
ber and of masts, the stout cables cut through as 
if they were straws, the capstans, spindles, and 
other heavy machinery torn from their place by 
the enemy's fire, strewed the deck so that there 
was scarcely room to move. Every minute men, 
till then full of life, fell on deck or into the sea ; 
the blasphemy of those who were fighting min- 
gled with the cries of the wounded, till it was im- 
possible to say whether the dying were defying 
God or the living crying to him for mercy while 
they fought. 

I offered my services for a melancholy task, 
Avhich was carrying the wounded into the cock- 
pit where the surgeons were busy doing their ut- 
most. Some were dead before we could get them 
there, and others had to suffer painful operations 
before their exhausted bodies could be left to re- 

Then I had the extreme satisfaction of helping 
the carpenters who were constantly employed in 
repairing the holes made in the ship's sides ; but 
my youth and inefficiency made me less useful 
than I would fain have been. 

Blood was flowing in rivulets on the upper and 


lower decks and in spite of the sand the motion 
of the ship carried it from side to side making 
sinister patterns on the boards. The canon-balls, 
iired at such a short range, mutilated those they 
killed in a terrible manner, and I saw more than 
one man still standing with his head blown away, 
the force of the shock not having been great 
enough to fling the victim into the sea, whose 
waters would have extinguished almost painlessly 
the last sensation of existence. Other balls struck 
3. mast or against the bulwarks, carrying off 
a hail of hot splinters that pierced and stung like 
arrows. The rifle-shots from the tops and the 
round-shot from the carronades dealt a more lin- 
gering and painful death, and there was hardly a 
man to be seen who did not bear the marks, more 
or less severe, of the foe's iron and lead. 

The crew — the soul of the ship — being thus 
thrashed by the storm of battle and utterly un- 
able to deal equal destruction, saw death at hand 
though resolved to die with the courage of despair; 
and the ship itself — the glorious body — shivered 
under the cannonade. I could feel her shudder un- 
der the fearful blows ; her timbers cracked, her 
beams creaked, her ribs groaned like limbs on the 
rack, and the deck trembled under my feet with 
audible throbs, as though the whole huge creature 


was indignant at the sufferings of her crew. Mean- 
while the water was pouring in at a hundred holes 
in the riddled hull, and the hold was fast filling. 

The Bucentaure, the Admiral's vessel, surren- 
dered before our very eyes. Villeneuve struck to 
the Victory. When once the leader of the fleet 
was gone, what hope was there for the other ships ? 
The French flag vanished from the gallant vessel's 
mast and she ceased firing. The San Augustin and 
the Heros still persevered, and the Rayo and Nep- 
tuno, of the van, made an effort to rescue us from 
the enemy that was battering us. I could see what 
was going on in the immediate neighborhood of the 
Trinidad, though nothing was to be seen of the 
rest of the line. The wind had fallen to a calm 
and the smoke settled down over our heads shroud- 
ing everything in its dense white wreaths which it 
was impossible for eye to pierce. We could catch 
a glimpse now and then of a distant ship, mysteri- 
ously magnified by some inexplicable optical effect; 
I believe indeed that the terror of that supreme 
moment exaggerated every impression. 

Presently this dense cloud was dispersed for 
an instant — but in what a fearful manner! A 
tremendous explosion, louder than all the thou- 
sand guns of the fleet fired at once, paralyzed 
every man and filled every soul with dread ; and 


just as the ear was stunned by the terrific roar an 
intense flash Hghted up the two fleets, rending the 
veil of smoke and reveahng the whole panorama 
of the battle. This catastrophe had taken place 
on the side towards the South where the rear line 
had been posted. 

" A ship blown up !" said one to another. 
But opinion differed as to whether it was the 
Santa Ana, the Argonanta, the Ildefonso, or the 
Bahama. We afterwards learnt that it was a 
Frenchman, the AcJiille. The explosion scat- 
tered in a myriad fragments what had a few mo- 
ments before been a noble ship of 74 guns and 
600 men. But a few seconds after we had already 
forgotten the explosion in thinking only of our- 

The Bnccntanre having struck, the enemy's 
fire was directed on us, and our fate was sealed. 
The enthusiasm of the first hour was by this ex- 
tinct in my soul ; my heart quaked with terror 
that paralyzed my limbs and smothered every 
other emotion excepting curiosity. This I found 
so irresistible that I could not keep away from 
places where the danger was greatest. My small 
assistance was of no great use now, for the 
wounded were too numerous to be carried below 
and the guns had to be served by those who had 


some little strength left. Among these was Mar- 
cial who was here, there, and everywhere, shouting 
and working to the best of his small ability, act- 
ing as boatswain, gunner, sailor, and carpenter all 
at once, doing everything that happened to be 
needed at this awful moment. No one could have 
believed that, with hardly more than half a body, 
he could have done the work of so many men. A 
splinter had struck him on the head and the blood 
had stained his face and given him a most horrible 
appearance. I could see his lips move as he 
licked the blood from them and then he spit it 
out viciously over the side, as if he thought he 
could thus punish the enemy. 

What astonished me most, and indeed shocked 
me somewhat, was that Marcial even in this scene 
of horror could still cut a good-humored joke ; 
whether to encourage his dejected comrades or 
only to keep his own courage up I do not know. 
The foremast fell with a tremendous crash, cover- 
ing the whole of the fore-deck with rigging, and 
Marcial called out to me : " Bring the hatchets, 
boy ; we must stow this lumber in Davy Jones' 
locker," and in two minutes the ropes were cut 
and the mast went overboard. 

Then, seeing that the enemy's fire grew hotter, 
he shouted to the purser's mate, who had come 


up to serve a gun : " Daddy, order up some 
drink for those ' great-coats,' and then they will 
let us alone." 

To a soldier, who was lying like a dead crea- 
ture with the pain of his wounds and the misery 
of sea-sickness, he exclaimed as he whisked the 
slow-match under his nose : " Take a whiff 
of orange-flower, man, to cure your faintness. 
Would you like to take a turn in a boat ? Nel- 
son has invited us to take a glass of grog with 

This took place amidships ; looking up at the 
quarter-deck I saw that Cisneros was killed ; two 
sailors hastily carried him down into his cabin. 
My master remained 'immovable at his post, but 
his left arm was bleeding severely. I ran up to 
help him, but before I could reach the spot an 
officer had gone to him to persuade him to retire 
to his state-room. He had not spoken two words 
when a ball shot away half his head and his blood 
sprinkled my face. Don Alonso withdrew, as 
pale as the corpse which fell on the quarter-deck. 
When my master had gone down the commander 
was left standing alone, so perfectly cool that I 
could not help gazing at him for a few minutes, 
astounded by such courage. His head was un- 
covered, his face very white, but his eyes flashed 


and his attitude was full of energy, and he stood 
at his post, commanding the desperate strife, 
though the battle was lost past retrieval. Even 
this fearful disaster must be conducted with due 
order, and the captain's duty was still to keep dis- 
cipline over heroism. His voice still controlled 
his men in this struggle between honor and death. 
An officer who was serving in the first battery 
came up for orders, and before he could speak he 
was lying dead at the feet of his chief; another 
officer of marines who was standing by his side 
fell wounded on the deck, and at last Uriarte 
stood quite alone on the quarter-deck, which was 
strewn with the dead and wounded. Even then 
he never took his eyes off the English ships and 
the working of our guns — the horrible scene on 
the poop and in the round-house, where his com- 
rades and subalterns lay dying, could not quell his 
noble spirit nor shake his firm determination to 
face the fire till he too should fall. As I recall the 
fortitude and stoical calmness of Don Francisco 
Xavier de Uriarte, I understand all that is told us 
of the heroes of antiquity. At that time the word 
Sublime was as yet unknown to me, but I felt that 
there must be, in every language under heaven, 
some human utterance to express that greatness 
of soul which I here saw 'incarnate and which re- 


vealed itself to me as a special grace vouchsafed by- 
God to miserable humanity. 

By this time most of our guns were silenced, 
more than half of our men being incapable of serv- 
ing them. I might not, however, have been aware 
of the fact, but that being impelled by curiosity I 
went out of the cabin once more and heard a voice 
saying in a tone of thunder: 

" Gabrielillo, come here." 

It was Marcial who was calling me ; I ran to 
his side and found him trying to work one of the 
guns which had been left silent for lack of men. A 
ball had shot away the half of his wooden leg, 
which made him exclaim : " Well ! so long as I 
can manage to keep the one of flesh and 
bone. . . . !" 

Two sailors lay dead by the gun; a third, 
though horribly wounded, still tried to go on 
working it. 

" Let be, mate !" said Marcial. "You cannot 
even light the match," and taking the linstock 
from his hand, he put it into mine, saying: "Take 
it, Gabrielillo. — If you are afraid you had better 
jump overboard." 

He loaded the cannon as quickly as he was able, 
helped by a ship's boy who happened to come up; 


we ran it forward: " fire !" was the word, I applied 
the match and the gun went off. 

We repeated this operation a second and a 
third time, and the roar of the cannon fired by my 
own hand produced an extraordinary effect on my 
nerves. The feeHng that I was no longer a spec- 
tator but an actor in this stupendous tragedy for 
the moment blew all my alarms to the winds ; I 
was eager and excited, or at any rate determined 
to appear so. That moment revealed to me the 
truth that heroism is often simply the pride of 
honor. Marcial's eye — the eyes of the world 
were upon me ; I must bear myself worthy of 
their gaze. 

" Oh !" I exclaimed to myself with an impulse 
of pride: " If only my young mistress could see 
me now ! . . . Bravely firing cannon like a man !" 
Two dozen of English were the least I might have 
sent to the other world. 

These grand visions, however, did not last long 
for Marcial, enfeebled by age, was beginning to 
sink with exhaustion ; he breathed hard as he 
wiped away the blood which flowed profusely from 
his head, and at last his arms dropped by his side, 
and closing his eyes, he exclaimed : " I can do no 
more ; the powder is rising to my head. Ga- 
brielillo, fetch me some w^ter." 


I ran to obey him, and when I had brought 
the water he drank it eagerly. This seemed to give 
him fresh energy ; we were just about to load once 
more when a tremendous shock petrified us as we 
stood. The main-mast, cut through by repeated 
shots, fell amidships and across the mizzen ; the 
ship was completely covered with the wreck, and 
the confusion was appalling. 

I happily was so far under shelter that I got no 
harm but a slight blow on the head which, though 
it stunned me for a moment, did not prevent my 
thrusting aside the fragments of rope and timber 
which had fallen above me. The sailors and marines 
were struggling to clear away the vast mass of 
lumber, but from this moment only the lower-deck 
guns could be used at all. I got clear as best I 
could and went to look for Marcial but I did not 
find him, and casting my eyes up at the quarter- 
deck, I saw that the captain was no longer at his 
post. He had fallen senseless, badly wounded in 
the head by a splinter, and two sailors were just 
about to carry him down to the state-room. I was 
running forward to assist when a piece of shell hit 
me on the shoulder, terrifying me excessively, for 
I made sure my wound was mortal and that I was 
at my last gasp. My alarm did not hinder me from 
going into the cabin ; I tottered from loss of blood 


and for a few minutes lay in a dead faint. I was 
roused from my short swoon by hearing the rattle 
of the cannon below and then a voice shouting 
vehemently : 

" Board her ! bring pikes ! — axes !" 

And then the confusion was so complete that it 
was impossible to distinguish human voices from 
the rest of the hideous uproar. However, some- 
how — I know not how — without thoroughly 
waking from my drowsy state, I became aware 
that all was given up for lost and that the officers 
liad met in the cabin to agree to strike ; nor was 
this the work of my fancy, bewildered as I was, for 
I heard a voice exclaiming : " The Trinidad 
never strikes !" I felt sure that it was Marcial's 
voice ; but at any rate some one said it. 

When I recovered perfect consciousness, I sav/ 
my master sunk on one of the sofas in the cabin, his 
face hidden in his hands, prostrate with despair, 
and paying no heed to his wound. 

I went to the heart-broken old man, who could 
find no way of expressing his grief but by embrac- 
ing me like a father, as if we were both together on 
the brink of the grave. He, at any rate, was con- 
vinced that he must soon die of grief, though his 
wound was by no means serious. I comforted him 
as best I might, assuring him that if the battle 


were indeed lost it was not because I had failed to 
batter the English to the best of my power ; and 
I went on to say that wc should be more fortunate 
next time — but my childish arguments failed to 
soothe him. 

Going out presently in search of water for my 
master, I witnessed the very act of lowering the 
flag which was flying at the gaff, that being 
one of the few spars, with the remains of the 
mizzen-mast, that remained standing. The glo- 
rious flag, the emblem of our honor, pierced 
and tattered as it was, which had gathered so 
many fighting- men under its folds, ran down the 
rope never to be unfurled again. The idea of 
stricken pride, of a brave spirit giving way before 
a superior force, can find no more appropriate sym- 
bol to represent it than that of a flying standard 
which sinl^s and disappears like a setting sun. And 
our flag thus slowly descending that fatal evening, 
at the moment when we surrendered, seem to shed 
a parting ray of glory. 

The firing ceased, and the English took posses- 
sion of the conquered vessel. 



When the mind had sufficiently recovered from 
the shock and excitement of battle, and had time 
to turn from " the pity of it " and the chill of ter- 
ror left by the sight of that terrific struggle, those 
who were left alive could see the hapless vessel in 
all its majesty of horror. Till now we had thought 
of nothing but self-defence, but when the firing 
ceased we could turn our attention to the dilapi- 
dated state of the ship, which let in the water at a 
hundred leaks and was beginning to sink, threaten- 
ing to bury us all, living and dead, at the bottom 
of the sea. The English had scarcely taken pos- 
session when a shout arose from our sailors, as from 
one man : 

"To the pumps !" 

All who were able flew to the pumps and 
labored hard at them ; but these ineffectual 
machines turned out much less water than poured 
in. Suddenly a shriek even more appalling than 
any we had heard before filled us with horror. I 
have said that the wounded had been carried 
down into the hold which, being below the water 


line, was secure from the inroads of the cannon 
shot. But the water was fast gaining there, and 
some sailors came scrambHng up the hatchways 
exclaiming that the wounded were being drowned. 
The greater part of the crew hesitated between 
continuing to pump and running down to rescue 
the hapless wretches ; and God knows what would 
have happened if an English crew had not come 
to our assistance. They not only carried up the 
wounded to the second and third deck but they 
lent a hand at the pumps and their carpenters set 
to work to stop the leaks in the ship's sides. 

Utterly tired out, and thinking too that Don 
Alonso might need my services, I returned to the 
cabin. As I went I saw some Englishmen hoist- 
ing the English flag at the bows of the Trinidad. 
As I dare to believe that the amiable reader will 
allow me to record my feelings, I may say that 
this incident gave me something to think of I 
had always thought of the English as pirates or 
sea-highwaymen, as a race of adventurers not 
worthy to be called a nation but living by rob- 
bery. When I saw the pride with which they 
hauled up their flag, saluting it with vociferous 
cheering ; when I perceived the satisfaction it was 
to them to have made a prize of the largest vessel 
that, until then, had ever sailed the seas, it struck 


me that their country, too, was dear to them, that 
lier honor was in their hands and I understood 
that in that land — to me so mysteriously remote 
— called England, there must be, as in Spain, 
honorable men, a paternal king, mothers, daugh- 
ters, wives, and sisters of these brave mariners — 
all watching anxiously for their return and pray- 
ing to God for victory. 

I found my master in the cabin, somewhat 
calmer. The English officers who had come on 
board treated ours with the most distinguished 
courtesy and, as I heard, were anxious to transfer 
the wounded on board their own ship. One of 
these gentlemen went up to my master as if 
recognizing him, bowed to him, and addressing 
him in fairly-good Spanish, reminded him of an 
old acquaintanceship. Don Alonso responded 
gravely to his advances and then enquired of him 
as to some of the details of the battle. 

"But what became of our reserve? What 
did Gravina do ?" asked my master. 

" Gravina withdrew with some of his ships," 
replied the English officer. 

" Only the Rayo and Neptuno came to our 
assistance of all the front line ?" 

"Four French ships — the Dugiiay-Trouin, 


the Mont Blanc, the Scipion, and the Formidable 
were the only ones that kept out of the action." 

"But Gravina — where was Gravina ?" Don 
Alonso persisted. 

" He got ofifin the Principe de Astiirias ; but 
as he was chased I do not know whether he 
reached Cadiz in safety." 

" And the San Ildcfonso f" 

" She struck." 

" And the Santa Ana f 

" Struck too." 

" Good God !" cried my master, unable ta 
conceal his indignation. " But you did not take 
the Neponiuceno ?" 

" Yes, that too." 

" Are you sure of that ? With Churruca ?" 

" He was killed," said the Englishman with 
sincere regret. 

"Killed — Churruca killed!" exclaimed Don 
Alonso in grievous bewilderment. " And the 
Bahama — she was saved — the Bahama must 
have been able to reach Cadiz in safety." 

" She was taken too." 

"Taken ! And Galiano ? He is a hero and 
a cultivated gentleman." 

" He was," said the Englishman sadly, " but 
he too is dead." 


" And the Montanes with Alcedo ?" 

"Killed, killed." 

My master could not control his emotion and 
as, at his advanced age, presence of mind is lack- 
ing at such terrible moments, he suffered the 
slight humiliation of shedding a few tears as he 
remembered his lost friends. Nor are tears un- 
becoming to a noble soul ; on the contrary, they 
reveal a happy infusion of delicate feeling, when 
combined with a resolute temper. My master's 
tears were manly tears, shed after he had done his 
duty as a sailor ; but, hastily recovering from this 
paroxysm of grief, and anxious to retort on the 
Englishman by some pain equal to that he had 
caused, he said : 

" You too have suffered, no doubt, and have 
lost some men of mark ? " 

" We have suffered one irreparable loss," said 
the English officer in accents as deeply sad as 
Don Alonso's. " We have lost our greatest man, 
the bravest of the brave — our noble, heroic, in- 
comparable Nelson." 

And his fortitude holding out no better than 
my master's he made no attempt to conceal his 
anguish of grief; he covered his face with his 
hands and wept with the pathetic frankness of in- 


controllable sorrow for his leader, his guardian, 
and his friend. 

Nelson, mortally wounded at an early stage of 
the battle by a gun-shot — the ball piercing his 
chest and lodging in the spine — had simply said 
to Captain Hardy : " They have done for me at 
last, Hardy." He lingered till the evening, not 
losing any details of the battle, and his naval and 
military genius only failed him with the last 
breath of his shattered body. Though suffering 
agonies of pain, he still dictated his orders and 
kept himself informed of the manoeuvres of both 
fleets ; and when at length he was assured that 
victory was on the side of the English, he ex- 
claimed : " Thank God, I have done my duty !" 
A quarter of an hour later the greatest sailor of 
the age breathed his last. The reader will forgive 
me this digression. 

It may seem strange that we did not know 
the fate of many of the ships of the combined 
fleets. But nothing could be more natural than 
our ignorance, considering the great length of our 
front and the plan of isolated fights contrived and 
carried out by the English. Their vessels had 
got mixed up with ours and the ships fought at 
close quarters ; the one which had engaged us hid 
the rest of the squadron from view, besides which 


the dense smoke prevented our seeing anything 
that was not quite close to us. Towards nightfall 
and before the firing had altogether ceased, we 
could distinguish a few ships in the offing, looking 
like phantoms ; some with half their rigging gone^ 
and others completely dismasted. The mist, the 
smoke and, indeed, our own wearied and bewil- 
dered brains, would not allow us to distinguish 
whether they were our own or the enemy's, and 
as, from time to time the glare of a broadside in 
the distance lighted up the lugubrious scene, we 
could see that the fight was still going on to a 
desperate end between detached groups of ships, 
while others were flying before the wind without 
aim or purpose, and some of ours were being 
towed by the English to the South. 

Night fell, increasing the misery and horror of 
our situation. It might have been hoped that 
Nature at least would be on our side after so much 
disaster ; but, on the contrary, the elements 
lashed us with their fury- as though Heaven 
thought our cup of misfortune was not yet full. 
A tremendous storm burst and the winds and 
waves tossed and buffeted our ship in their fury 
and, as she could not be worked, she was utterly 
at their mercy. The rolling was so terrible that 
it was very difficult even to work the pumps, and 


this, combined with the exhausted condition of 
the men, made our condition grow worse every 
minute. An Enghsh vessel, which as we learnt was 
the Prince, tried to take us in tow ; but her 
efforts were in vain and she was forced to keep off 
for fear of a collision which would have been fatal 
to both. Meanwhile it was impossible to get any- 
thing to eat, and I was dying of hunger, though 
the others seemed insensible to anything but 
the immediate danger and gave no thought to this 
important matter. I dared not ask for a piece of 
bread even, for fear of seeming greedy and trouble- 
some ; but at the same time, I must confess — 
and without shame — I looked out sharply to see 
if there were any place where I might hope to find 
any kind of eatable stores. Emboldened by hun- 
ger, I made free to inspect the hold where the 
biscuit-boxes were kept, and what was my aston- 
ishment at finding Marcial there before me, stow- 
ing himself with every thing he could lay his 
hands on. The old man's wound was not serious, 
and though a ball had carried away his right foot, 
as this was only the lower end of his wooden leg 
the mishap only left him a little more halt than 

"Here, Gabrielillo," he said, giving me a heap 
of biscuits, " take these. No ship can sail without 


ballast." And then he pulled out a bottle and 
drank with intense satisfaction. As we went out 
of the biscuit- room we saw that we were not the 
only visitors who had made a raid upon it ; on the 
contrary, it was very evident that it had been well 
pillaged not long since. 

Having recruited my strength I could now 
think of trying to make myself useful by lending 
a hand at the pumps or helping the carpenters. 
They were laboriously repairing some of the dam- 
age done, aided by the English, who watched all 
our proceedings ; indeed, as I have since learnt, 
they kept an eye on every one of our sailors, for 
they were afraid lest we should suddenly mutiny 
and turn upon them to recapture the vessel ; in 
this, however, the enemy showed more vigilance 
than common-sense, for we must indeed have lost 
our wits before attempting to recover a ship in 
such a condition. However, the " great-coats" 
were everywhere at once, and we could not stir 
without being observed. 

Night fell, and as I was perishing with cold I 
quitted the deck where I could scarcely bear my- 
self besides incurring constant risk of being swept 
-overboard by a wave, so I went down into the 
cabin. My purpose was to try to sleep a little 
while — but who could sleep in such a night ? 


The same confusion prevailed in the cabin as on 
deck. Those who had escaped unhurt were doing 
what they could to aid the wounded, and these, 
disturbed by the motion of the vessel which pre- 
vented their getting any rest, were so pitiable a 
sight that it was impossible to resign one's self to 
sleep. On one side, covered with the Spanish 
flag, lay the bodies of the officers who had been 
killed ; and in the midst of all this misery, sur- 
rounded by so much suffering, these senseless 
corpses seemed really to be envied. They alone 
on board the Trinidad were at rest, to them 
nothing mattered now : fatigue and pain, the dis- 
grace of defeat, or physical sufferings. The 
standard which served them as a glorious winding- 
sheet shut them out, as it were, from the world of 
responsibility, of dishonor, and of despair, in which 
we were left behind. They could not care for the 
danger the vessel was in, for to them it was no 
longer anything but a coffin. 

The officers who were killed were Don Juan 
Cisniega, a lieutenant in the navy, who was 
not related to my master, in spite of their iden- 
tity of name ; Don Joaquin de Salas and Don 
Juan Matute, also lieutenants ; Don Jose Graulle, 
lieutenant-colonel in the army ; Urias, lieutenant 
in command of a frigate, and midshipman Don 


Antonio de Bobadilla. The sailors and marines 
whose corpses lay strewn about the gun-decks and 
upper-deck amounted to the terrible number of 
four hundred. 

Never shall I forget the moment when the 
bodies were cast into the sea, by order of the 
English officer in charge of the ship. The dismal 
ceremony took place on the morning of the 22nd 
when the storm seemed to be at its wildest on 
purpose to add to the terrors of the scene. The 
bodies of the officers were brought on deck, the 
priest said a short prayer for this was no time for 
elaborate ceremonial, and our melancholy task 
began. Each wrapped in a flag, with a cannon- 
ball tied to his feet, was dropped into the waves 
without any of the solemn and painful emotion 
which under ordinary circumstances would have 
agitated the lookers-on. Our spirits were so 
quelled by disaster that the contemplation of death 
had become almost indifference. Still, a burial at 
sea is more terribly sad than one on land. We 
cover the dead with earth and leave him there ; 
those who loved him know that there is a spot 
where the dear remains are laid and can mark it 
with a slab, a cross, or a monument ; but at sea 
— the body is cast into that heaving, shifting 
waste ; it is lost forever as it disappears ; imagina- 


tion cannot follow it in its fall — down, down to 
the fathomless abyss ; it is impossible to realize 
that it still exists at the bottom of the deep. These 
Avere my reflections as I watched the corpses 
vanish — the remains of those brave fighting-men, 
so full of life only the day before — the pride of 
their country and the joy of all who loved them. 

The sailors were thrown overboard with less 
ceremony ; the regulation is that they shall be 
tied up in their hammocks, but there was no time 
to carry this out. Some indeed were wrapped 
round as the rules require, but most of them were 
thrown into the sea without any shroud or ball at 
their feet, for the simple reason that there were 
not enough for all. There were four hundred of 
them, more or less, and merely to clear them 
overboard and out of sight every able-bodied man 
that was left had to lend a hand, so as to get it 
done as quickly as possible. Much to my horror 
I saw myself forced to offer my services in the 
dismal duty, and many a dead man dropped over 
the ship's side at a push from my hand helping 
other and stronger ones. 

One incident — or rather coincidence — oc- 
curred which filled me with horror. A body hor- 
ribly mauled and mutilated had been picked up 
by two sailors, and just as they lifted it one or two 


of the by-standers allowed themselves to utter 
some of those coarse and grim jests which are 
always offensive, and at such a moment revolting. 
I know not how it was that this poor wretch was 
the only one which moved them so completely to 
lose the sense of reverence due to the dead, but 
they exclaimed : " He has been paid out for old 
scores — he will never be at his tricks again," and 
other witticisms of the same kind. For a moment 
my blood rose, but my indignation suddenly 
turned to astonishment mingled with an indescrib- 
able feeing of awe, regret, and aversion, when, on 
looking at the mangled features of the corpse, I 
recognized my uncle. I shut my eyes with a 
shudder, and did not open them again till the 
splash of the water in my face told me that he had 
disappeared forever from mortal ken. This man 
had been very cruel to me, very cruel to his sis- 
ter ; still, he was my own flesh and blood, my 
mother's brother ; the blood that flowed in my 
veins was his, and that secret voice which warns 
us to be charitable to the faults of our own kith 
and kin could not be silenced after what I had 
seen, for at the moment when I recognized 
him I had perceived in those blood-stained features 
some reminder of my mother's face, and this 
stirred my deepest feelings. I forgot that the man 


had been a brutal wretch, and all his barbarous 
treatment of mc durint^ my hapless childhood. I 
can honestly declare — and I venture to do so 
though it is to my own credit — that I forgave 
him with all my heart and lifted up my soul to 
God, pra}'ing for mercy on him for all his 

I learnt afterwards that he had behaved gal- 
lantly in the fight, but even this had not won him 
the respect of his comrades who, regarding himi 
as a low sneak, never found a good word for him 
— not even at that supreme moment when, as a 
rule, every offence is forgiven on earth in the be- 
lief that the sinner is rendering an account to his 

As the day advanced the Prince attempted 
once more to take the Santisinia Trinidad in tow, 
but with no better success than before. Our situ- 
ation was no worse, although the tempest raged 
with undiminished fury, for a good deal of the 
mischief had been patched up, and we thought 
that if the weather should mend the hulk, at any 
rate, might be saved. The English made a great 
point of it, for they were very anxious to take the 
largest man-of-war ever seen afloat into Gibraltar 
as a trophy ; so they willingly plied the pumps 
by night and by day and allowed us to rest 


awhile. All through the day of the 22nd the sea 
continued terrific, tossing the huge and helpless 
vessel as though it were a little fishing-boat, and 
the enormous mass of timber proved the sound- 
ness of her build by not simply falling to pieces 
under the furious lashing of the waters. At some 
moments she rolled over so completely on her 
beam ends that it seemed as though she must go 
to the bottom, but suddenly the wave would fly 
off in smoke, as it were, before the hurricane, the 
ship, righting herself, rode over it with a toss of 
her mighty prow — which displayed the Lion of 
Castile — and we breathed once more with the 
hope of escaping with our lives. 

On all sides we could see the scattered fleets ; 
many of the ships were English, severely dam- 
aged and striving to gain shelter under the coast. 
There were Frenchmen and Spaniards too, some 
dismasted, others in tow of the enemy. Marcial 
recognized the Sati Ildcfonso. Floating about 
were myriads of fragments and masses of wreck 
— spars, timbers, broken boats, hatches, bulwarks, 
and doors — besides two unfortunate sailors who 
were clinging to a plank, and who must have been 
swept off and drowned if the English had not 
hastened to rescue them. They were brought 
on board more dead than alive, and their resusci- 


tation after being in the very jaws of death was 
like a new birth to them. 

That day went by between agonies and hopes 
— now we thought nothing could save the ship 
and that we must be taken on board an EngHsh- 
man, then again we hoped to keep her afloat. 
The idea of being taken into Gibraltar as prisoners 
was intolerable, not so much to me perhaps as to 
men of punctilious honor and sensitive dignity 
like my master whose mental anguish at the 
thought must have been intolerable. However, 
all the torment of suspense, at any rate, was re- 
lieved by the evening when it was unanimously 
agreed that if we were not transferred to an 
English ship at once, to the bottom we must go 
with the vessel, which now had five feet of water 
in the hold. Uriarte and Cisneros took the an- 
nouncement with dignified composure, saying 
that it mattered little to them whether they per- 
ished at once or were prisoners in a foreign land. 
The task was at once begun in the doubtful twi- 
light, and as there were above three hundred 
wounded to be transferred it was no easy matter. 
The available number of hands was about five 
hundred, all that were left uninjured of the 
original crew of eleven hundred and fifteen before 
the battle. 


We set to work promptly with the launches of 
the Trinidad and the Prince, and three other 
boats belonging to the English. The wounded 
were attended to first ; but though they were 
lifted with all possible care they could not be 
moved without great suffering, and some entreated 
with groans and shrieks to be left in peace, pre- 
ferring immediate death to anything that could 
aggravate and prolong their torments. But there 
was no time for pity, and they were carried to the 
boats as ruthlessly as the cold corpses of their 
comrades had been flung into the sea. 

Uriarte and Cisneros embarked in the English 
captain's gig, but when they urged my master to 
accompany them he obstinately refused, saying 
that he wished to be last to leave the sinking ship. 
This I confess disturbed me not a little, for as by 
this time, the hardy patriotism which at first had 
given me courage had evaporated, I thought only 
of saving my life, and to stay on board a founder- 
ing vessel was clearly not the best means to that 
laudable end. Nor Avere my fears ill founded, for 
not more than half the men had been taken off 
when a dull roar of terror echoed through the 

" She is going to the bottom — the boats, to 
the boats!" shouted some, and there was a rush 


to the ship's side, all looking out eagerly for the 
return of the boats. Every attempt at work or 
order was given up, the wounded were forgotten, 
and several who had been brought on deck 
dragged themselves to the side in a sort of deli- 
rium, to seek an opening and throw themselves 
into the sea. Up through the hatchways came a 
hideous shriek which I think I can hear as I write, 
freezing the blood in my veins and setting my 
hair on end. It came from the poor wretches on 
the lowest deck who already felt the waters rising 
to drown them and vainly cried for help — to God 
or men — who can tell ! Vainly indeed to men,, 
for they had enough to do to save themselves. 
They jumped wildly into the boats, and this con- 
fusion in the darkness hindered progress. One 
man alone, quite cool in the midst of the danger, 
remained in the state cabin, paying no heed to all 
that was going on around him, walking up and 
down sunk in thought, as though the planks he 
trod were not fast sinking into the gulf below. It 
was my master. I ran to rouse him from his 
stupefaction. " Sir," I cried, " we are drown- 
ing !" 

Don Alonzo did not heed me, and if I may 
trust my memory he merely said without looking 
round : 


" How Paca will laugh at me, when I go home 
after such a terrible defeat !" 

" Sir, the ship is sinking !" I insisted, not in- 
deed exaggerating the danger, but in vehement 

My master looked at the sea, at the boats, at 
the men who were blindly and desperately leap- 
ing overboard ; I looked anxiously for Marcial 
and called him as loudly as I could shout. At 
the same time I seemed to lose all consciousness 
of where I was and what was happening. I 
turned giddy and I could see nothing. To tell 
how I was saved from death I can only trust to 
the vaguest recollections, like the memory of a 
dream, for in fact I fairly swooned with terror. A 
sailor, as I fancy, came up to Don Alonso while I 
Avas speaking to him ; in his strong arms I felt 
myself lifted up and when I somewhat recovered 
my wits I found myself in one of the boats, 
propped up against my master's knees, while he 
held my head in his hands with fatherly care and 
kindness. Marcial held the tiller and the boat 
was crowded with men. 

Looking up I saw, apparently not more than 
four or five yards away, the black side of our ship 
sinking fast ; but through the port-holes of the 
deck that was still above water I could see a dim 


light — that of the lamp which had been lighted at 
dusk and which still kept unwearied watch over the 
wreck of the deserted vessel. I still could hear 
the groans and cries of the hapless sufferers whom 
it had been impossible to remove and who were 
within a few feet of the abyss while, by that dis- 
mal lamp they could see each other's misery and 
read each other's agony in their eyes. 

My fancy reverted to the dreadful scene on 
board — another inch of water would be enough 
to overweight her and destroy the little buoyancy 
that was left her. How far did those poor creatures 
understand the nearness of their fate ? What were 
they saying in this awful moment ? If they could 
see us safe in our boat — if they could hear the 
splash of our oars, how bitterly must their tortured 
souls complain to Heaven ! But such agonizing 
martyrdom must surely avail to purify them of all 
guilt, and the grace of God must fill that hapless 
vessel, now when it was on the point of disappear- 
ing for ever ! 

Our boat moved away ; and still I watched 
the shapeless mass — though I confess that I be- 
lieve it was my imagination rather than my eyes 
that discerned the Trinidad through the dark- 
ness, till I believe I saw, against the black sky, 
a huge arm reaching down to the tossing waters — 


the efifect no doubt of my imagination on my 


The boat moved on — but whither ? Not 
Marcial himself knew where he was steering her 
to. The darkness was so complete that we lost 
sight of the other boats and the lights on board 
the Pt'ince were as invisible through the fog, as 
though a gust of wind had extinguished them. 
The waves ran so high and the squalls were so 
violent that our frail bark made very little way, 
but thanks to skilful steering she only once ship- 
ped water. We all sat silent, most of us fixing a 
melancholy gaze on the spot where we supposed 
our deserted comrades were at this moment en- 
gaged in an agonizing death-struggle. In the 
course of this passage I could not fail to make, as 
was my habit, certain reflections which I may ven- 
ture to call philosophical. Some may laugh at a 
philosopher of fourteen ; but I will not heed their 
laughter ; I will try to write down the thoughts 
that occupied me at this juncture. Children too 
can think great thoughts and at such a moment, 


in face of such a spectacle, what brain but an 
idiot's could remain unmoved. 

There were both English and Spaniards in our 
boat — though most Spaniards — and it was strange 
to note how they fraternized, helping and encour- 
aging each other in their common danger, and 
quite forgetting that only the day before they had 
been killing each other in hideous fight, more like 
wild beasts than men. I looked at the English 
who rowed with as good a will as our own sailors, 
I saw in their faces the same tokens of fear or of 
hope, and above all the same expression, sacred to 
humanity, of kindness and fellowship which was 
the common motive of all. And as I noted it I 
said to myself: " Good God ! why are there wars ? 
Why cannot these men be friends under all the 
circumstances of life as they are in danger ? Is 
not such a scene as this enough to prove that all 
men are brothers ?" 

But the idea of nationality suddenly occurred 
to me to cut short these speculations, and my 
geographical theory of islands. "To be sure," 
said I to myself, " the islands must need want to 
rob each other of some portion of the land, and 
that is what spoils everything. And indeed there 
must be a great many bad men there who make 
wars for their own advantage, because they are 


ambitious and wish for power, or are avaricious 
and wish for wealth. It is these bad men who de- 
ceive the rest — all the miserable creatures who do 
the fighting for them ; and to make the fraud com- 
plete, they set them against other nations, sow dis- 
cord and foment envy — and here you see the 
consequences. I am certain" — added I to myself, 
" that this can never go on ; I will bet two to one 
that before long the inhabitants of the different 
Islands will be convinced that they are committing 
a great folly in making such tremendous wars, and 
that a day will come when they will embrace each 
other and all agree to be like one family." So I 
thought then ; and now, after sixty years of life, I 
have not seen that day dawn. 

The launch labored on through the heavy sea. 
I believe that if only my master would have con- 
sented Marcial would have been quite ready to 
pitch the English overboard and steer the boat to 
Cadiz or the nearest coast, even at the imminent 
risk of foundering on the way. I fancy he had 
suggested something of the kind to Don Alonso, 
speaking in a low voice, and that my master wished 
to give him a lesson in honor, for I heard him 
say : 

" We are prisoners, Marcial — we are pris- 


The worst of it was that no vessel came in 
sight. The Prince had moved ofif, and no Hght on 
cither side told us of the existence of an English 
ship. At last, however, we descried one at some 
distance and a few minutes later the vague outline 
came in sight of a ship before the storm, to our 
windward, and on the opposite tack to ours. Some 
thought it was a Frenchman, others said it was 
English ; Marcial was sure she was a Spaniard. 
We pulled hard to meet her and were soon within 
speaking distance. Our men hailed her and the 
answer was in Spanish. 

" It is the Sa7t Agustin'' said Marcial. 

" The San Agustin was sunk," said Don 
Alonso ; " I believe it is the Santa Ana which 
was also captured." In fact, as we got close, we 
all recognized the Santa Ana which had gone into 
action under the command of Alava. The English 
officers in charge immediately prepared to take us 
on board, and before long we were all safe and 
sound on deck. 

The Santa Ana, 112 guns, had suffered 
severely, though not to such an extent as the 
Santisima Trinidad ; for, though she had lost 
all her masts and her rudder, the hull was fairly 
sound. The Santa Ana survived the battle of 
Trafalgar eleven years, and would have lived much 


longer if she had not gone to the bottom for want 
of repairs in the bay of Havana, in 18 16. She 
had behaved splendidly in the fight. She was 
commanded, as I have said, by Vice-admiral 
Alava leader of the van which, as the order of 
battle was altered, became the rear. As the 
reader knows, the line of English ships led by 
Collingwood attacked the Spanish rear while Nel- 
son took the centre. The Santa Ana, only sup- 
ported by the Fongnenx, a Frenchman, had to 
fight the Royal Sovereign and four other English 
ships ; and in spite of their unequal strength one 
side suffered as much as the other, for Colling- 
wood's ship was the first to retire and the Eiiry- 
ahis took her place. By all accounts the fighting 
was terrific, and the two great ships, whose masts 
were almost entangled, fired into each other for 
six hours until Alava and Gardogui, both being 
wounded (Alava subsequently died), five oifificers 
and ninety-seven sailors being killed, besides more 
than 150 wounded, the Santa Ana was forced to 
surrender. The English took possession of her, 
but it was impossible to work her on account of 
her shattered condition, and the dreadful storm 
that rose during the night of the 21st; so when 
we went on board she was in a very critical, 
though not a desperate situation, floating at the 


merc}' of the wind and waves and unable to make 
any course. From that moment I was greatly 
comforted by seeing that every face on board 
betrayed a dread of approaching death. They 
were all very sad and quiet, enduring with a 
solemn mien the disgrace of defeat and the 
sense of being prisoners. One circumstance I 
could not help observing, and that was that 
the English officers in charge of the ship were 
not by a great deal so polite or so kind as those 
sent on board the Ti'inidad ; on the contrary, 
among those on the Satita Ana were some who 
were both stern and repellent, doing all they 
could to mortify us, exaggerating their own dig- 
nity and authority, and interfering in everything 
with the rudest impertinence. This greatly an- 
noyed the captured crew, particularly the sailors; 
and I fancied I overheard many alarming mur- 
murs of rebellion which would have been highly 
disquieting to the English if they had come to 
their ears. 

Beyond this there is nothing to tell of our pro- 
gress that night — if progress it can be called when 
we were driven at the will of the wind and waves, 
sailless and rudderless. Nor do I wish to weary 
the reader with a repetition of the scenes we had 
witnessed on board the Trinidad, so I will go on 


to Other and newer incidents which will surprise 
him as much as they did me. 

I had lost my liking for hanging about the 
deck and poop, and as soon as we got on board 
the Santa Ajia I took shelter in the cabin with 
my master, hoping to get food and rest, both of 
which I needed sorely. However, I found there 
many wounded who required constant attention 
and this duty, which I gladly fulfilled, prevented 
my getting the sleep which my wearied frame re- 
quired. I was engaged in placing a bandage on 
Don Alonso's arm when a hand was laid on my 
shoulder. I turned round and saw a tall young 
officer wrapped in a large blue cloak whom I did 
not immediately recognize ; but after gazing at 
him for a few seconds, I exclaimed aloud with 
surprise ; it was Don Rafael Malespina, my young 
mistress's lover. 

My master embraced him affectionately and 
he sat down by us. He had been wounded in the 
shoulder, and was so pale from fatigue and loss of 
blood that his face looked quite altered. His 
presence here filled me with strange sensations — 
some of which I am fain to own were anything 
rather than pleasing. At first I felt glad enough 
indeed to see any one I knew and who had come 
out alive from those scenes of horror, but the next 


moment my old aversion for this man rose up, as 
strong as ever in my breast, like some dormant 
pain reviving to torment me after an interval of 
respite. I confess with shame that I was sorry to 
see him safe and sound, but I must do myself the 
justice to add that the regret was but momentary, 
as brief as a lightning flash — a flash of blackness, 
as I may say, darkening my soul ; or rather a 
transient eclipse of the light of conscience which 
shone clearly again in the next instant. The evil 
side of my nature for a moment came uppermost; 
but I was able to suppress it at once and drive it 
down again to the depths whence it had come. 
Can every one say as much ? 

After this brief mental struggle I could look at 
Malespina, glad that he was alive and sorry that 
he was hurt ; and I remember, not without pride, 
that I did all I could to show him my feelings. 
Poor little mistress ! How terrible must her an- 
guish have been all this time. My heart overflowed 
with pitiful kindness at the thought — I could have 
run all the way to Vejer to say : " Seiiorita Doiiia 
Rosa, your Don Rafael is safe and sound." 

The luckless Malespina had been brought on 
board the Santa Ana from the Ncpoimiceno, which 
had also been captured, and with so many wounded 
on board that it had been necessary, as we learnt, 


to distribute them or they must have perished of 
neglect. When the father and his daughter's _^ance 
had exchanged the first greetings and spoken of the 
absent ones on shore, the conversation turned on 
the details of the battle. My master related all that 
had occurred on board the Trinidad and then he 
added : " But no one has told me exactly what 
has become of Gravina. Was he taken prisoner, 
or has he got off to Cadiz ?" 

"The Admiral," said Malespina, "stood a 
terrific fire from the Defiance and the Revenge. 
The Neptune, a Frenchman, came to her assistance 
with the San Ildefonso and the San Justo ; but 
our enemies were reinforced by the DreadnoiigJii, 
the Thunderer, and the PolypJienms ; so that re- 
sistance was hopeless. Seeing the Principe de 
Asturias with all her tackle cut, her masts over- 
board and her sides riddled with balls, while Grav- 
ina himself and Escano, his second in command, 
were both wounded, they resolved on giving up the 
struggle which was quite in vain for the battle was 
lost. Gravina hoisted the signal to retire on the 
stump of a mast and sailed off for Cadiz, followed 
by the San Justo, the San Leandro, the Montanes 
and three others ; only regretting their inability 
to rescue the San Ildefonso which had fallen into 
the hands of the enemy." 


" But tell US what happened on board the 
Nepoinuccuo," said my master, deeply interested. 
" I can hardly believe that Churruca can be dead ; 
and, though every one tells me that he is, I can- 
not help fancying- that that wonderful m^an must 
still be alive somewhere on earth." 

But Malespina told him that it had been his 
misfortune to see Churruca killed and said he would 
relate every detail. A few officers gathered round 
him while I, as curious as they could be, was all 
ears in order not to lose a syllable. 

" Even as we came out of Cadiz," said Male- 
spina, " Churruca had a presentiment of disaster. 
He had voted against sailing out to sea, for he 
knew the inferiority of our armament, and he also 
had little confidence in Villeneuve's skill and judg- 
ment. All his predictions were verified — all, even 
to his own death : for there is no doubt that he 
had foreseen it as surely as he did our defeat. On 
the 19th he had said to Apodaca, his brother-in- 
law, before going on board : ' Sooner than sur- 
render my ship, I will blow her up or go to the 
bottom. That is the duty of every man who serves 
his king and country.' And the same day, writ- 
ing to a friend, he said : ' If you hear that my 
ship is taken you will know that I am dead.' 

" Indeed it was legible in his sad grave face 


that he looked forward to nothing but a catastro- 
phe. I beheve that this conviction, and the abso- 
lute impossibiHty of avoiding defeat while feeling 
himself strong enough for his own part, seriously 
weighed upon his mind, for he was as capable of 
great deeds as he was of nobis thoughts. 

" Churruca's was a religious as well as a supe- 
rior mind. On the 21 St., at eleven in the morning, 
he called up all the soldiers and crew ; he bid them 
all kneel and said to his chaplain in solemn tones : 
' Fulfil your function, holy Father, and absolve 
these brave souls that know not what this fight 
may have in store for them.' When the priest had 
pronounced absolution Churruca desired them to 
stand up, and speaking in friendly but audible tones 
he added : ' My children all: — In God's name I 
promise heavenly bliss to all who die doing their 
duty. If one of you shirks it he shall be shot on 
the spot ; or, if he escapes my notice or that of the 
gallant officers I have the honor to command, his 
remorse shall pursue him so long as he crawls 
through the rest of his miserable and dishonored 

" This harangue, as eloquent as it was wise, 
combining the ideas of religion and of military 
duty, filled every man on board with enthusiasm. 
Alas for all these brave hearts ! — wasted like gold 


sunk at the bottom of the ocean ! Face to face 
with the EngHsh, Churruca watched Villeneuve's 
prehminary manoeuvres with entire disapproval, 
and when the signal was given for the whole fleet 
to turn about — a manoeuvre which, as we know, 
reversed the order of battle — he told his captain 
in so many words that this blunder had lost us the 
day. He immediately understood the masterly 
plan struck out by Nelson of cutting our line 
through the centre from the rear, and engaging 
the whole fleet at once, dealing with our ships in 
separate divisions so that they could not assist 
each other. 

"The Neponmceiio was at the end of the line. 
The Royal Sovereign and the Santa Ana opened 
fire and then all the ships in turn came into action. 
Five English vessels under Collingwood attacked 
our ship ; two, however, passed on and Churruca 
had only three to deal with. 

"We held out bravely against these odds till 
two in the afternoon, suffering terribly, how- 
ever, though we dealt double havoc on the foe. 
Our Admiral seemed to have infused his heroic 
spirit into the crew and soldiers, and the ship was 
handled and the broadsides delivered with terrible 
promptitude and accuracy. The new recruits had 
learnt their lesson in courage in no more than a 


couple of hours' apprenticeship, and our defence 
struck the EngHsh not merely with dismay but 
with astonishment. 

" They were in fact forced to get assistance and 
bring up no less than six against one. The two 
ships that had at first sailed past now returned, 
and the Dreadnought came alongside of us, with 
not more than half a pistol-shot between her 
and our stern. You may imagine the fire of 
these six giants pouring balls and small shot into 
a vessel of 74 guns. But our ship seemed posi- 
tively to grow bigger in proportion to the desper- 
ate bravery of her defenders. They themselves 
seemed to grow in strength as their courage 
mounted, and seeing the dismay we created in an 
enemy six times as strong, we could have believed 
ourselves something more than men. 

" Churruca, meanwhile, who was the brain of 
us all, directed the action with gloomy calmness. 
Knowing that only care and skill could supply the 
place of strength he economized our fire, trusting 
entirely to careful aim, and the consequence was 
that each ball did terrible havoc on the foe. He 
saw to everything, settled everything, and the 
shot flew round him and over his head without 
his ever once changing color even. That frail 
and delicate man, whose beautiful and melancholy 


features looked so little fitted to dare such scenes 
of terror, inspired us all with unheard-of courage, 
simply by a glance of his eye. 

" However, it was not the will of God that he 
should escape alive from that storm of fire. See- 
ing that no one could hit one of the enemy's 
ships which was battering us with impunity, he 
went down himself to judge of the line of fire and 
succeeded in dismasting her. He was returning 
to the quarter-deck when a cannon ball hit his 
right leg with such violence as almost to take it 
off, tearing it across the thigh in the most fright- 
ful manner. We rushed to support him and our 
hero sank into my arms. It was a fearful mo- 
ment. I still fancy I can feel his heart beating 
under my hand — a heart which, even at that ter- 
rible moment, beat only for his country. He 
sank rapidly. I saw him make an effort to raise 
his head, which had fallen forward on his breast; 
I saw him try to force a smile while his face was 
as white as death, and he said, in a voice that was 
scarcely Aveaker than usual : ' It is nothing — go 
on firing.' 

" His spirit revolted against death and he did 
all he could to conceal the terrible sufferings of 
his mutilated frame, while his heart beat more 
feebly every instant. We wanted to carry him 


down into the cabin, but nothing would persuade 
him to quit the quarter-deck. At last he yielded 
to our entreaties and understood that he must 
give up the command. He called for Moyna, his 
lieutenant, and was told that he was dead ; then 
he called for the officer in command of the first 
battery, and the latter though himself seriously 
wounded at once mounted the quarter-deck and 
assumed the command. 

"But from that moment the men lost heart; 
from giants they shrank to pigmies ; their courage 
was worn out and it was plain that we must sur- 
render. The consternation that had possessed me 
from the instant when our hero fell into my arms 
had not prevented my observing the terrible effect 
that this disaster had produced in the minds of 
all. A sudden paralysis of soul and body seemed 
to have fallen on the crew ; they all stood petri- 
fied and speechless and the grief of losing their 
beloved leader quite overpowered the disgrace of 

" Quite half of the men were dead or wounded; 
most of the guns were past serving; all the masts 
except the main -mast were gone by the board and 
the rudder could not be used. Even in this de- 
plorable plight we made an attempt to follow the 
Principe de Astiirias which had given the signal 


to retreat, but the Ncpomuceno was mortally 
wounded and could not move nor steer. Even 
then, in spite of the wrecked state of the ship, in 
spite of the dismayed condition of the men, in 
spite of a concurrence of circumstances to ren- 
der our case hopeless, not one of the six English 
captains attempted to board us. They respected 
our ship even when she was at their mercy. 

" Churruca, in the midst of his agony, ordered 
that the flag should be nailed to the mast, for the 
ship should never surrender so long as he 
breathed. The delay alas ! could be but brief, for 
Churruca was going rapidly, and we who sup- 
ported him only wondered that a body so man- 
gled could still breathe ; it was his indomitable 
spirit that kept him alive added to a resolute 
determination to live, for he felt it his first duty. 
He never lost consciousness till the very end, nor 
complained of his sufferings, nor seemed to dread 
his approaching death ; his sole care and anxiety 
was that the crew should not know how danger- 
ous his condition was, so that no one should fail 
in his duty. He desired that the men should be 
thanked for their heroic bravery, spoke a few 
words to his brother-in-law, Ruiz de Apodaca, and, 
after sending a message to his young wife he fixed 
his thoughts on God, whose name we heard fre- 


quently on his parched lips, and died with the 
cahn resignation of a just man and the fortitude of 
a hero ; bereft of the satisfaction of victory but 
with no angry sense of defeat. In liim duty and 
dignity were equally combined, and discipline was 
second only to religion. As a soldier he was 
resolute, as a man he was resigned, and without a 
murmur or an accusing word he died as nobly as 
he had lived. We looked at his body, not yet 
cold, and it seemed all a delusion — he must 
surely wake to give us our orders ; and we wept 
with less fortitude than he had shown in dying, for 
in him we had lost all the valor and enthusiasm 
that had borne us up. 

" Well, the ship struck ; and when the officers 
from the six vessels that had destroyed her came 
on board each claimed the honor of receiving the 
sword of our dead hero. Each exclaimed : ' He 
surrendered to me !' — and for a few minutes they 
eagerly disputed the victory, each for the ship he 
represented. Then they asked the officer who had 
taken the command to which of the Englishmen 
he had struck. ' To all,' he replied. ' The Nepo- 
imiceno would never have surrendered to one.' 

" The English gazed with sincere emotion on 
the body of the hapless Churruca, for the fame of 
his courage and genius was known to them and 


one of them spoke to this effect: 'A man of such 
ilhistrioLis quahties ought never to be exposed to 
the risks of battle ; he should be kept to live and 
serve the interests of science and navigation.' 
Then they prepared for dropping him overboard, 
the English marines and seamen forming a line of 
honor alongside of the Spaniards ; they behaved 
throughout like noble-minded and magnanimous 

" The number of our wounded was very con- 
siderable, and they were transferred on board 
other English or captured ships. It was my lot 
to be sent to this one which has suffered worse 
than most; however, they count more on getting 
her into Gibraltar than any other, now that they 
have lost the Trinidad which was the finest and 
most coveted of our ships." 

Thus ended Malespina's narrative which was 
attentively listened to as being that of an eye- 
Avitness. From what I heard I understood that a 
tragedy just as fearful as that I myself had seen 
had been enacted on board every ship of the fleet. 
" Good God !" said I to myself, " what infinite 
misery ! and all brought about by the obstinacy of 
a single man !" And child as I was, I remember 
thinking : " One man, however mad he may be, 
can never commit such extravagant follies as 


whole nations sometimes plunge into at the bid- 
dine of a hundred wise ones." 


A LARGE part of the night was spent in listen- 
ing to Malespina's narrative and the experiences 
of other officers. They were interesting enough 
to keep me awake and I was so excited that I 
found great difficulty afterwards in going to sleep 
at all. I could not get the image of Churruca out 
of my mind as I had seen him, handsome and 
strong, at Dona Flora's house. On that occasion, 
even, I had been startled by the expression of in- 
tense sadness on the hero's features, as if he had 
a sure presentiment of his near and painful death. 
His noble life had come to an untimely end when 
he was only forty-four years old, after twenty-nine 
years of honorable service as a soldier, a navigator, 
and a man of science — for Churruca was all of 
these, besides being a noble and cultivated gentle- 
men. I was still thinking of all these things when, 
at length, my brain surrendered to fatigue and I 
fell asleep on the morning of the 23rd, my youth- 
ful nature having got the better of my excitement 


and curiosity. But in my sleep, which was long 
if not quiet, I was still haunted by nightmare 
visions, as was natural in my overwrought state of 
mind, hearing the roar of cannon, the tumult of 
battle and the thunder of billows ; meanwhile I 
fancied I was serving out ammunition, climbing 
the rigging, rushing about between decks to en- 
courage the gunners and even standing on the 
quarter-deck in command of the vessel. I need 
hardly say that in this curious but visionary battle 
I routed all the English past, present, or to come, 
with as much ease as though their ships were 
made of paper and their cannon-balls were bread- 
pills. I had a thousand men-of-war under my 
command, each larger than the Trinidad, and they 
moved before me with as much precision as the 
toy-ships with which I and my comrades had been 
wont to play in the puddles of la Caleta. 

At last, however, all this glory faded away, 
which, as it was but a dream, is scarcely to be 
wondered at when we see how even the reality 
vanishes. It was all over when I opened my eyes 
and remembered how small a part I had actually 
played in the stupendous catastrophe I had wit- 
nessed. Still — strange to say — even when wide 
awake I heard cannon and the all-dreadful tumult 
of war, with shouts and a clatter that told of some 



great turmoil on deck. I thought I must still be 
dreaming; I sat up on the sofa on which I had 
fallen asleep ; I listened with all my ears, and cer- 
tainly a thundering shout of " God save the King" 
left no doubt in my mind that the Santa Ana was 
fighting once more. 

I went out of the cabin and studied the situa- 
tion. The weather had moderated ; to the wind- 
ward a few battered ships were in sight, and two 
of them, Englishmen, had opened fire on the Santa 
Ana which was defending herself with the aid of 
two others, a Frenchman and a Spaniard. I could 
not understand the sudden change in the aspect of 
affairs. Were we no longer prisoners of war ? I 
looked up — our flag was flying in the place of the 
Union Jack. What could have happened? — or 
rather what was happening ? For the drama was 
in progress. 

On the quarter-deck stood a man who, I con- 
cluded, must be Alava, and though suffering from 
several wounds he still had strength enough to 
command this second action, which seemed likely 
enough to recover the honor his good ship had 
lost in the disaster of the first. The officers were 
encouraging the sailors who were serving those 
guns that could still be worked, while a detach- 
ment kept guard over the English, who had been 


disarmed and shut up in the lower deck. Their 
officers who had been our jailers were now become 
our prisoners. 

I understood it all. The brave commander of 
the Santa Ana, Don Ignacio de Alva, seeing that 
we were within hail of some Spanish ships, which 
had come out of Cadiz in hope of rescuing some 
of our captured vessels and to take off the sur- 
vivors from such as might be sinking, had ad- 
dressed a stirring harangue to his disheartened 
crew who responded to his enthusiasm by a 
supreme effort. By a sudden rush they had dis- 
armed the English who were in charge and 
hoisted the Spanish flag once more. The Santa 
Ana was free, but she had to fight for life, a more 
desperate struggle perhaps than the first had 

This bold attempt — one of the most honor- 
able episodes of the battle of Trafalgar — was 
made on board a dismasted ship, that had lost her 
rudder, with half her complement of men killed or 
wounded, and the other half in a wretched con- 
dition both moral and physical. However, the 
deed once done we had to face the consequences ; 
two Englishmen, considerably battered no doubt, 
fired on tht Santa Anc^- but the Asis, theMontanes, 
and the Rayo — three ships that had got off with 


Gravina on the 21st — opportunely came to the 
rescue, having come out with a view to recaptur- 
ing the prizes. The brave cripples rushed into 
the desperate action, with even more courage per- 
haps than into the former battle, for their un- 
healed wounds spurred them to fury and they 
seemed to fight with greater ardor in proportion 
as they had less life to lose. 

All the incidents of the dreadful 21st were re- 
peated before my eyes ; the enthusiasm was tre- 
mendous, but the hands were so few that twice 
the will and energy were needed. This heroic 
action fills indeed but a brief page in history, for, 
by the side of the great event which is now known 
as the Battle of Trafalgar, such details are dwarfed 
or disappear altogether like a transcient spark in 
a night of gloom and horror. 

The next thing that happened to me person- 
ally cost me some bitter tears. Not finding my 
master at once I felt sure he was in some danger, 
so I went down to the upper gun-deck and there 
I found him, training a cannon. His trembling 
hand had snatched the linstock from that of a 
wounded sailor and he was trying, with the feeble 
sight of his right eye, to discover to what point in 
the foe he had better send the missile. When 
the piece went off he turned to me trembling 


with satisfaction, and said in a scarcely audible 
voice : 

" Ah ha ! Paca need not laugh at me now. 
We shall return to Cadiz in triumph." 

Finally we won the fight. The English per- 
ceived the impossibility of recapturing the Santa 
Afia when, besides the three ships already men- 
tioned, two other Frenchmen and a frigate came 
up to her assistance in the very thick of the fray. 

We were free, and by a glorious effort ; but at 
the very moment of victory we saw most clearly 
the peril we were in, for the Santa Ana was now 
so completely disabled that we could only be 
towed into Cadiz. The French frigate TJiemis 
sent a cable on board and put her head to the 
North, but what could she do with such a dead- 
weight in tow as the Santa Ana, which could do 
little enough to help herself with the ragged sails 
that still clung to her one remaining mast? 
The other ships that had supported her — the 
Rayo, the Montanes, and the San Francisco de 
Asis, were forced to proceed at full sail to the as- 
sistance of the San Jnan and the Bahama, which 
were also in the hands of the English. There we 
were, alone, with no help but the frigate that was 
doing her best for us — a child leading a giant. 
What would become of us if the enemy — as was 


very probable — recovering from their repulse^ 
were to fall upon us with renewed energy and re- 
inforcements ? However, Providence thought 
good to protect us ; the wind favored us, and our 
frigate gently leading the way, we found ourselves 
nearing Cadiz. 

Only five leagues from port ! What an un- 
speakable comfort ! Our miseries seemed ended ; 
ere long we should set foot on terra firma, and 
though we brought news no doubt of a terrible 
disaster, we were bringing relief and joy to many 
faithful souls who were suffering mortal anguish in 
the belief that those who were returning alive and 
well had all perished. 

The valor of the Spaniards did not avail to 
rescue any ships but ours, for they were too late 
and had to return without being able to give 
chase to the English ships that kept guard over 
the Sa7t Juan, the Bahama, and the San Ilde- 
fonso. We were still four leagues from land when 
we saw them making towards us. A southerly 
gale was blowing up and it was clear to all on 
board the Santa Ana that if we did not soon get 
into port we should have a bad time of it. Once 
more we were filled with anxiety ; once more we 
lost hope almost in sight of safety, and when a 
few hours more on the cruel sea would have seen 



US safe and sound in harbor. Night was coming 
on black and angry ; the sky was covered with 
dark clouds which seemed to lie on the face of 
the ocean, and the lurid flashes which lighted 
them up from time to time added terror to the 
gloom. The sea waxing in fury every instant, as 
if it were not yet satiated, raved and roared with 
hungry rage, demanding more and yet more vic- 
tims. The remnant of the mighty fleet which a 
short time since had defied its fury combined with 
that of the foe was not to escape from the wrath 
of the angry element which, implacable as an 
ancient god and pitiless to the last, was as cruel 
to the victor as to the conquered. 

I could read the signs of deep depression in 
the face not only of my master but of the Admiral, 
Alava, who, in spite of his wounds, still kept on 
his feet and signalled to the frigate to make all 
possible speed ; but, instead of responding to his 
very natural haste, the Themis prepared to shorten 
sail so as to be able to keep before the gale. I 
shared the general dismay and could not help re- 
flecting on the irony with which Fate mocks at 
our surest calculations and best founded hopes, 
on the swiftness with which she flings us from 
happy security to the depth of misery. Here we 
were, on the wide ocean, that majestic emblem of 


human life. A gust of wind and it is completely 
transformed, the light ripple which gently caressed 
the vessel's side swells into a mountain of water that 
lashes and beats it, the soft music of the wavelets 
in a calm turns to a loud, hoarse voice, threaten- 
ing the frail bark which flings itself into the waters 
as though its keel were unable to balance it, to 
rise the next moment buffeted and tossed by the 
very wave that has lifted it from the abyss. A 
lovely day ends in a fearful night, or, on the other 
hand, a radiant moon that illumines an infinite sky 
and soothes the soul, pales before an angry sun at 
whose light all nature quakes with dismay. 

We had experienced all these viscissitudes, and 
in addition, those which are the result of the will 
of man. We had suffered shipwreck in the midst 
of defeat ; after escaping once we had been com- 
pelled to fight again, this time with success ; and 
then, when we thought ourselves out of our 
troubles, when we hailed Cadiz with delight, we 
were once more at the mercy of the tempest which 
had treacherously deluded us only to destroy us 
outright. Such a succession of adverse fortune 
seemed monstrous — it was like the malignant 
aberrations of a divinity trying to do all the harm 
he could devise to us hapless mortals — but it was 
only the natural course of things at sea, combined 


with the fortune of war. Given a combination of 
these two fearful forces and none but an idiot can 
be astonished at the disasters that must ensue. 

Another circumstance contributed to my mas- 
ter's distress of mind, and to mine too, that even- 
ing. Since the rescue of the Santa Ana Malespina 
had disappeared. At last, after seeking him every- 
where, I discovered him lying in a heap on a sofa 
in the cabin. 1 went up to him and saw that he 
was very pale ; I spoke to him but he could not 
answer. He tried to move but fell back gasping. 

" Are you wounded ?" I asked. " I will fetch 
some one to attend to you." 

"It is nothing," he said. "Can you get me 
some water?" 

I went at once for my master. 

"What is the matter — this wound in your 
hand ?" said he, examining the young officer. 

" It is more than that," replied Don Rafael 
sadly, and he put his hand to his right side close 
by his sword-belt. And, then, as if the effort of 
pointing out his wound and speaking those few 
words had been too much for his weakened frame, 
he closed his eyes and neither spoke nor moved 
for some minutes. 

" This is serious," said my master anxiously. 

" It is more than serious," said a surgeon who 


had come to examine him. Malespina, deeply de- 
pressed by finding himself in so evil a plight, and 
believing himself past all hope, had not even re- 
ported himself as wounded, but had crept away to 
this corner where he had given himself up to his 
reflections and memories. He believed that he 
was killed and he would not have the wound 
touched. The surgeon assured him that though 
it was dangerous it need not prove mortal, though 
he owned that if he did not get into port that 
night so that he might be properly treated on 
shore, his life, like that of the rest of the wounded, 
was in the greatest danger. The Santa Ana had 
lost ninety-seven men killed on the 2ist, and a 
hundred and forty wounded ; all the resources of 
the surgery were exhausted and many indispensa- 
ble articles were altogether wanting. Malespina's 
catastrophe was not the only one during the rescue, 
and it had been the will of Heaven that another 
man very near and dear to me should share his 
fate. Marcial had been wounded ; though at first 
his indomitable spirit had kept him up and he 
hardly felt the pain and depression, before long he 
submitted to be carried down into the cock-pit, 
confessing that he was very badly hit. My master 
sent a surgeon to attend to him, but all he would 
say was that the wound would have been trifling 


in a man of five-and-twenty — but Marcial was 
past sixty. 

Meanwhile the Rayo passed to leeward and we 
hailed her. Alava begged her to enquire of the 
Themis whether the captain thought he could get 
us into Cadiz, and when he roundly said, No, the 
Admiral asked whether the Rayo, which was al- 
most unharmed, expected to get in safely. Her 
captain thought she might and it was agreed that 
Gardoqui, who was severely wounded, and several 
others, should be sent on board her, among them 
Don Rafael Malespina. Don Alonso obtained that 
Marcial should also be transferred to her in con- 
sideration for his age which greatly aggravated 
his case, and he sent me, too, in charge of them as 
page or sick-nurse, desiring me never to lose sight 
of them for an instant till I saw them safe in the 
hands of their family, at Cadiz, or even at Vejer. 
I prepared to obey him, though I tried to per- 
suade my master that he too ought to come on 
board the Rayo for greater safety, but he would 
not even listen to such a suggestion. 

" Fate," he said, " has brought me on board 
this ship, and in it I will stay till it shall please 
God to save us or no. Alava is very bad, most 
of the officers are more or less hurt, and I may be 
able to be of some service here. I am not one of 


those who run away from danger ; on the con- 
trary, since the defeat of the 2ist I have sought it; 
I long for the moment when my presence may 
prove to be of some use. If you reach home be- 
fore me, as I hope you will, tell Paca that a good 
sailor is the slave of his country, that I am very 
glad that I came — that I do not regret it — on 
the contrary. Tell her that she is to be glad, too, 
when she sees me, and that my comrades would 
certainly have thought badly of me if I had not 
come. How could I have done otherwise ? You 
— do you not think that I did well to come ?" 

" Of course, certainly," I replied, anxious to 
soothe his agitation, " who doubts it ?" For his 
excitement was so great that the absurdity of 
asking the opinion of a page-boy had not even 
occurred to him. 

" I see you are a reasonable fellow," he went 
on, much comforted by my admission. " I see 
you have a noble and patriotic soul. But Paca 
never sees anything excepting through her own 
selfishness, as she has a very odd temper and has 
taken it into her head that fleets and guns are 
useless inventions, she cannot understand why I. . . 
In short, I know that she will be furious when she 
sees me and then — as we have not won the battle, 
she will say one thing and another — oh! she 


will drive me mad ! However, I will not mind 
her. You — what do you say ? Was I not right 
to come ?" 

"Yes, indeed, I think so," I said once more: 
" You were very right to come. It shows that 
you are a brave officer." 

" Well then go — go to Paca, go and tell her 
so, and you will see what she will say," he went 
on more excited than ever. " And tell her that I 
am safe and sound, and my presence here is in- 
dispensable. In point of fact, I was the principal 
leader in the rescue of the Santa Ana. If I had 
not trained those guns — who knows, who knows? 
You — what do you think ? We may do more 
yet ; if the wind favors us to-morrow morning we 
may rescue some more ships. Yes sir, for I have 
a plan in my head . . . We shall see, we shall see. 
And so good bye, my boy. Be careful of what 
you say to Paca." 

" I will not forget," said I. " She shall know 
that if it had not been for you we should not have 
recaptured the Santa Ana, and that if you are 
lucky you may still bring a couple of dozen ships 
into Cadiz." 

" A couple of dozen ! — no man ; that is a 
large number. Two ships, I say — or perhaps 
three. In short, I am sure I was right to join the 


fleet. She will be furious and will drive me mad 
when I get home again ; but I was right, I say — 
I am sure I was right." With these words he left 
me and I saw him last sitting in a corner of the 
cabin. He was praying, but he told his beads 
with as little display as possible, for he did not 
choose to be detected at his devotions. My mas- 
ter's last speech had convinced me that he had 
lost his wits and, seeing him pray, I understood 
how his enfeebled spirit had struggled in vain to 
triumph over the exhaustion of age, and now, 
beaten in strife, turned to God for support and 
consolation. Dona Francisca was right ; for 
many years my master had been past all service 
but prayer. 

We left the ship according to orders. Don 
Rafael and Marcial with the rest of the wounded 
officers were carefully let down into the boats by 
the strong-armed sailors. The violence of the sea 
made this a long and difficult business, but at last 
it was done and two boat loads were pulled off to 
the Rayo. The passage, though short was really 
frightful ; but at last, though there were moments 
when it seemed to me that we must be swallowed 
up by the waves, we got alongside of the Rayo 
and with great difficulty clambered on board. 



"Out of the frying-pan into the fire," said 
Marcial, when they laid him down on deck 
" However, when the captain commands the men 
must obey. Rayo is an unlucky name for this 
cursed ship. They say she will be in Cadiz by 
midnight, and I say she won't. We shall see 
what we shall see." 

" What do you say, Marcial ? we shall not get 
in ?" I asked in much alarm. 

" You, master Gabrielito, you know nothing 
about such matters," said he. 

" But when Don Alonso and the officers of 
the Santa Ana say that the Rayo will get in to- 
night . . . She must get in when they say she will." 

" Do not you know, you little landlubber, 
that the gentlemen of the quarter-deck are far 
more often mistaken than we are in the fo'castle ? 
If not, what was the admiral of the fleet about? 
— Mr. Corneta — devil take him ! You see he 
had not brains enough to work a fleet. Do you 
suppose that if Mr. Corneta had asked my advice 
we should have lost the battle ?" 


" And you think we shall not get into Cadiz ?" 

" I say this old ship is as heavy as lead itself 
and not to be trusted either. She rides the sea 
badly and will not answer her helm. Why, she is 
as lop-sided and crippled as I am ! If you try to 
put her to port off she goes to starboard." 

In point of fact the Rayo was considered by 
all as bad a ship as ever sailed. But in spite of 
that, in spite of her advanced age — for she had 
been afloat nearly fifty-six years — as she was still 
sound she did not seem to be in any danger though 
the gale increased in fury every minute, for we 
were almost close to port. At any rate, did it not 
stand to reason that the Santa Ana was in greater 
jeopardy, dismasted and ruddeless, in tow of a 
frigate ? 

Marcial was carried to the cock-pit and Males- 
pina to the captain's cabin. When we had settled 
him there, with the rest of the wounded officers, I 
suddenly heard a voice that was familiar to me 
though for the moment I could not identify it with 
any one I knew. However, on going up to the 
group whence the stentorian accents proceeded, 
drowning every other voice, what was my surprise 
at recognizing Don Jose Maria Malespina ! I ran 
to tell him that his son was on board, and the wor- 
thy parent at once broke off the string of rodo- 


montade that he was pouring forth and flew to the 
wounded man. His delight was great at finding 
him ahve; he had come out of Cadiz because he 
could no longer endure the suspense and he must 
know what had become of his boy at any cost. 

"Why your wound is a mere trifle," he said, 
embracing his son. " A mere scratch ! But you 
are not used to wounds; you are quite a molly- 
coddle, Rafael. Oh, if only you had been old 
enough to go with me to fight in Rousillon ! You 
would have learnt there what wounds are — some- 
thing like wounds ! Do you know a ball hit me in 
the fleshy part of the arm, ran up to my shoulder 
and then right round the shoulder blade and out 
by the belt. A most extraordinary case, that was. 
But in three days I was all right again and com- 
manding the artillery at Bellegarde." He went on 
to give the following account of his presence on 
board the Rayo. 

" We knew the issue of the battle at Cadiz, by 
the evening of the 21st. I tell you, gentlemen — 
no one would listen to me when I talked of reform- 
ing our artillery and you see the consequences. 
Well, as .soon as I knew the worst and had learnt 
that Gravina had come in with a few ships I went 
to see if the San Juan Nepomuceno, on board 
which you were, was one of them ; but they told 



me she had been captured. You cannot imagine 
my anxiety ; I could hardly doubt that you were 
dead, particularly when I heard how many had been 
killed on board your ship. However, I am one of 
those men who must follow a matter up to the 
end, and knowing that some of the ships in port 
were preparing to put out to sea in hope of pick- 
ing up derelicts and rescuing captured vessels, I 
determined to set out without a moment's delay 
and sail in one of them. I explained my wishes 
to. Solano and then to the Admiral in command, 
my old friend Escaiio, and after some hesitation 
they allowed me on board. I embarked this morn- 
ing, and enquired of every one in the Rayo for 
some news of you and of the San Jiian, but I 
could get no comfort ; nay, quite the contrar}^ for 
I heard that Churruca was killed and that his ship, 
after a glorious defence, had struck to the enemy. 
You may fancy my anxiety. How far was I from 
supposing this morning, when we rescued the 
Santa Ana, that you were on board! If I had 
but known it for certain I would have redoubled 
my efforts in the orders I issued — by the kind 
permission of these gentlemen ; Alava's ship 
should have been free in two minutes." 

The officers who were standing round us looked 
at each other with a shrug as they heard Don 


Jose's last audacious falsehood. I could gather 
from their smiles and winks that he had afforded 
them much diversion all day with his vainglorious 
fictions, for the worthy gentleman could put no 
bridle on his indefatigable tongue, even under the 
most critical and painful circumstances. 

The surgeon now said that his patients ought 
to be left to rest and that there must be no con- 
versation in their presence, particularly no refer- 
ence to the recent disaster. Don Jose Maria, how- 
ever, contradicted him flatly, saying that it was 
good to keep their spirits up by talking to them. 

" In the war in Rousillon," he added, " those 
who were badly wounded — and I was several 
times — sent for the soldiers to dance and play the 
guitar in the infirmary ; and I am very certain 
that this treatment did more to cure us than all 
your plasters and dosing." 

" Yes, and in the wars with the French Re- 
public," said an Andalusian officer who wanted to 
trump Don Jose's trick, " it was a regular thing 
that a corps de ballet should be attached to the 
ambulance corps, and an opera company as well. 
It left the surgeons and apothecaries nothing to 
do, for a few songs, and a short course of pirouettes 
and capers set them to rights again, as good as new. " 

" Come, come !" cried Malespina, " this is too 


much. You do not mean to say that music and 
dancing can heal a wound ?" 

"You said so." 

" Yes, but that was only once and it is not 
likely to occur again. Perhaps you think it not 
unlikely that we may have such another war as 
that in Rousillon ? The most bloody, the best con- 
ducted, the most splendidly planned war since 
the days of Epaminondas ! Certainly not. Every 
thing about it was exceptional ; and you may be- 
lieve me when I say it, for I was in the thick of it, 
from the Introit to the last blessing. It is to my 
experience there that I owe my knowledge of ar- 
tillery — did you never hear me spoken of? I am 
sure you must recognize my name. Well, you 
must know that I have in my head a magnificent 
scheme, and if one of these days it is only realized 
we shall hear of no more disasters like that of the 
2 1 St. Yes, gentlemen," he said, looking round at 
the three or four officers who were listening, with 
consummate gravity and conceit : " Something 
must be done for the country. Something must 
be devised — something stupendous, to recoup us 
at once for our losses and secure victory to our 
fleets for ever and ever. Amen." 

"Let us hear, Don Jose," said one of the 
audience. "Explain your scheme to us." 


" Well, I am devoting my mind to the con- 
struction of 300-pounders." 

" Three-hundred-pounders !" cried the officers 
with shouts of laughter and derision. "Why, the 
largest we carry is a 36-pounder. " 

" Mere toys ! Just imagine the ruin that would 
be dealt by a 300-pound gun fired into the enemy's 
fleet," said Malespina. "Butwhat the devil is that?" 
he added putting out his hand to keep himselt 
from falling, for the Rayo rolled so heavily that it 
was very difficult for any one to keep his feet. 

" The gale is stiffening and I doubt our getting 
into Cadiz to-night," said one of the officers mov- 
ing away. The worthy man had now but two lis- 
teners, but he proceeded with his mendacious 
harangue all the same. 

" The first thing must be to build a ship from 
95 to 100 yards in length." 

" The Devil you will ! That would be a snug 
little craft with a vengeance!" said one of the 
officers. "A hundred yards ! Why the Trijiidad — 
God rest her — was but seventy and everybody 
thought her too long. She did not sail well you 
know and was very difficult to handle." 

" It does not take much to astonish you I see," 
Malespina went on. " What is a hundred yards ? 
Why, much larger ships than that might be built. 


And you must know that I would build her of 

" Of iron !" and his listeners went into fits of 

" Yes sir, of iron. Perhaps you are not familiar 
with the science of hydrostatics ? There can be 
no difficulty in building an iron ship of 7000 

" And the Trinidad was of 4000 ! and that 
was too big. But do you not see that in order to 
move such a monster you would want such gigan- 
tic tackle that no human power could work it ?" 

" Not a bit of it ! — Besides, my good sir, who 
told you that I was so stupid as to think that I 
could trust to the wind alone to propel my ship ? 
If you knew — I have an idea. — But I do not 
care to explain my scheme to you for you would 
not understand me." 

At this point of his discourse Don Jose was so 
severely shaken that he fell on all fours. But not 
even this could stop his tongue. Another of his 
audience walked away, leaving only one who had 
to listen and to keep up the conversation. 

"What a pitching and tossing," said the old 
man. " I should not wonder if we were driven on 
shore. — Well, as I was saying — I should move 
my monster by an invention of my own — can 


you guess what ? — By steam. To this end I 
should construct a pecuHar kind of machine in 
which the steam, expanding and contracting alter- 
nately inside two cylinders, would put certain 
wheels in motion; then . . . ." 

The officer would listen no longer, and though 
he had no commission on board the ship nor any 
fixed duty, being one of the rescued, he went off 
to assist in working the ship, which was hard 
enough to do as the tempest increased. Males- 
pina was left alone with me for an audience, and 
at first I thought he would certainly cease talking, 
not thinking me capable of sustaining the conver- 
sation. But, for my sins, it would seem that he 
credited me with more merit than I could lay 
claim to, for he turned to me and went on : 

" You understand what I mean ? Seven 
thousand tons, and steam working two wheels, 
and then . . . ." 

" Yes senor, I understand you perfectly," I 
replied, to see if he would be silent, for I did not 
care to hear himi, nor did the violent motion of 
the ship which threatened us with immediate peril 
at all incline my mind to dissertations on the ag- 
grandizement of the Spanish navy. 

" I see," he continued, " that you know how 
to appreciate me and value my inventions. You 


see at once that such a ship as I describe would 
be invincible, and as available for attack as for de- 
fence. With four or five discharges it could rout 
thirty of the enemy's ships." 

" Would not their cannon do it some damage?" 
I asked timidly, and speaking out of civility rather 
than from any interest I felt in the matter. 

" Your observation is a very shrewd one my 
little gentleman, and proves that you really ap- 
preciate my great invention. But to avoid injury 
from the enemy's guns I should cover my ship with 
thick plates of steel. I should put on it a breast- 
plate, in fact, such as warriors wore of old. With 
this protection it could attack the foe, while their 
projectiles would have no more effect on its sides 
than a broadside of bread-pills flung by a child. 
It is a wonderful idea I can tell you, this notion of 
mine. Just fancy our navy with two or three 
ships of this kind ! What would become of the 
English fleet then, in spite of its Nelsons and 
Colljngwoods ?" 

" But they might make such ships themselves," 
I returned eagerly and feeling the force of this ar- 
gument. " The English would do the same, and 
then the conditions of the battle would be equal 

Don Jose v/as quite dumbfounded by this sug- 


gestion and for a minute did not know what to 
say, but his inexhaustible imagination did not de- 
sert him for long and he answered, but somewhat 
crossly : 

" And who said, impertinent boy, that I 
should be such a fool as to divulge the secret so 
that the English might learn it? These ships 
Avould be constructed in perfect secrecy without 
a word being whispered even to any one. Sup- 
pose a fresh war were to break out. We should 
defy the English: 'Come on, gentlemen,' we 
should say, ' we are ready, quite ready.' The 
common ships Vvould put out to sea and begin 
the action when lo and behold ! out come two or 
three of these iron monsters into the thick of the 
fight, vomiting steam and smoke and turning here 
and there without troubling themselves about the 
Avind ; they go wherever they are wanted, splin- 
tering the wooden sides of the enemy's ships by 
the blows of their sharp bows, and then with a 
broadside or two ... It would all be over in a 
quarter of an hour." 

I did not care to raise any further difficulties 
for the conviction that our vessel was in the 
greatest danger quite kept my mind from dwell- 
ing on ideas so inappropriate to our critical situa- 
tion. In fact, I never thought again of the mon- 


ster ship of the old man's fancy till thirty years 
after when we first heard of the application of 
steam to purposes of navigation ; and again when, 
half-way through the century, our fine frigate the 
Numancia actually realized the extravagant 
dreams of the braggart of Trafalgar. 

Half a century later I remembered Don Jose 
Maria Malespina and I said : " He seemed to us a 
bombastic liar; but conceptions which are extrav- 
agant in one place and time, when born in due 
season become marvellous realities ! And since 
living to see this particular instance of the fact, I 
have ceased to think any Utopia impossible, and 
the greatest visionaries seem to me possible men 
of genius." 

I left Don Jose in the cabin and ascended the 
companion-way, to see what was going forward, 
and as soon as I was on deck I understood the 
dangerous situation of the Rayo. The gale not 
only prevented her getting into Cadiz, but was 
driving her towards the coast where she must 
inevitably be wrecked on the rocky shore. Mel- 
ancholy as was the fate of the abandoned Santa 
Ana it could not be more desperate than ours. 
I looked with dismay into the faces of the officers 
and crew to see if I could read hope in any one 
of them, but despair was written in all. I glanced 


at the sky — it was black and awful ; I gazed at 
the sea — it was raging with fury. God was our 
only hope — and He had shown us no mercy 
since the fatal 21st ! 

The Rayo was running northwards. I could 
understand, from what I heard the men about me 
saying, that we were driving past the reef of Mara- 
jotes — past Hazte Afuera — Juan Bola — Torre- 
gorda, and at last past the entrance to Cadiz. In 
vain was every effort made to put her head round 
to enter the bay. The old ship, like a frightened 
horse, refused to obey ; the wind and waves car- 
ried her on, due north, with irresistible fury and 
science could do nothing to prevent it. 

We flew past the bay, and could make out to 
our right. Rota, Punta Candor, Punta de Meca, 
Regla and Chipiona. There was not a doubt that 
the Rayo must be driven on shore, close to the 
mouth of the Guadalquivir. I need hardly say 
that the sails were close reefed and that as this 
proved insufficient in such a furious tempest the 
topmasts were lowered ; at last it was even thought 
necessary to cut away the masts to prevent her 
from foundering. In great storms a ship has to 
humble herself, to shrink from a stately tree to a 
lowly plant ; and as her masts will no more yield 
than the branches of an oak, she is under the sad 


necessity of seeing them amputated and losing her 
limbs to save her life. 

The loss of the ship was now inevitable. The 
main and mizzen-masts were cut through and sent 
overboard, and our only hope was that we might 
be able to cast anchor near the coast. The an- 
chors were got ready and the chains and cables 
strengthened. We were now running right 
on shore, and two cannon were fired as a 
signal that we wanted help ; for as we could clearly 
distinguish fires we kept up our hope that there 
must be some one to come to our rescue. Some 
were of opinion that a Spanish or English ship 
had already been wrecked here and that the fires 
we saw had been lighted by the destitute crew. 
Our anxiety increased every instant, and as for 
myself I firmly believed that I was face to face 
with a cruel death. I paid no attention to 
what was doing on board, being much too agitated 
to think of anything but my end, which seemed in- 
evitable. If the vessel ran on a rock, what man 
could swim through the breakers that still divided 
us from the coast ? The most dangerous spot in 
a storm is just where the waves are hurled revolv- 
ing against the shore, as if they were trying to 
scoop it out and drag away whole tracts of earth 
into the gulfs below. The blow of a wave as it 


dashes forward and its gluttonous fury as it rushes 
back again, is such as no human strength can 
stand against. 

At last, after some hours of mortal anguish, 
the keel of the Rayo came upon a sand bank and 
there she stuck. The hull and the remaining masts 
shivered as she struck; she seemed to be trying to 
cut her way through the obstacle ; but it was too 
much for her ; after heaving violently for a few 
moments, her stern went slowly down with fearful 
creaks and groans, and she remained steady. All 
was over now, nothing remained to be done but 
to save ourselves by getting across the tract of 
sea which separated us from the land. This seemed 
almost impossible in the boats we had on board ; 
our best hope was that they might send us help 
from the shore, for it was evident that the crew of 
a lately wrecked vessel was encamped there, and 
one of the government cutters, which had been 
placed on the coast by the naval authorities for 
service in such cases, must surely be in the neigh- 
borhood. The Rayo fired again and again, and we 
watched with desperate impatience, for if some 
succour did not reach us soon we must all go 
down in the ship. The hapless crippled mass 
whose timbers had parted as she struck seemed 
likely to hasten her end by the violence of her 


throes, and the moment could not be far off when 
her ribs must fall asunder and we should be left 
at the mercy of the waves with nothing to cling 
to but the floating wreck. 

Those on shore could do nothing for us, but by 
God's mercy our signal guns were heard by a 
sloop which had put to sea at Chipiona and which 
now approached us, keeping, however, at a re- 
spectful distance. As soon as her broad mainsail 
came in view we knew that we were saved, and 
the captain of the Rayo gave orders to insure our 
all getting on board without confusion in such 
imminent peril. My first idea, when I saw the 
boats being got out, was to run to the two men 
who most interested me on board : Marcial and 
young Malespina, both wounded, though Marcial's 
was not a serious case. I found the young officer 
in a very bad way and saying to the men around 
him: " I will not be moved — leave me to die 

Marcial had crawled up on deck and was lying 
on the planks so utterly prostrate and indifferent 
that I was really terrified at his appearance. He 
looked up as I went near him and taking my hand 
said in piteous tones : " Gabrielillo, do not forsake 
me !" 

"To land!" I cried trying to encourage him, 


*' we are all going on shore." But he only shook 
his head sadly as if he foresaw some immediate 

I tried to help him up, but after the first effort 
he let himself drop as if he were dead. " I can- 
not," he said at length. The bandages had come 
off his wound and in the confusion of our desper- 
ate situation no one had thought of applying fresh 
ones. I dressed it as well as I could, comforting 
him all the time with hopeful words ; I even went 
so far as to laugh at his appearance to see if that 
would rouse him. But the poor old man could not 
smile; he let his head droop gloomily on his breast, 
as insensible to a jest as he was to consolation. 
Thinking only of him, I did not observe that the 
boats were putting off. Among the first to be put 
on board were Don Jose Malespina and his son; my 
first impulse had been to follow them in obedience to 
my master's orders, but the sight of the wounded 
sailor was too much for me. Malespina could not 
need me, while Marcial was almost a dead man and 
still clung to my hand with his cold fingers, saying 
again and again : " Gabrielillo, do notleav^e me." 

The boats labored hard through the breakers, 
but notwithstanding, when once the wounded had 
been moved the embarkation went forward 
rapidly, the sailors flinging themselves in by a 


rope or taking a flying leap. Several jumped into 
the water and saved themselves by swimming. It 
flashed through my mind as a terrible problem, by 
which of these means I could escape with my life, 
and there was no time to lose for the Rayo was 
breaking up ; the after-part was all under water 
and the cracking of the beams and timbers, which 
were in many places half rotten, warned me that 
the huge hulk would soon cease to exist. Every 
one was rushing to the boats, and the sloop, which 
kept at a safe distance, very skilfully handled so as 
to avoid shipping water, took them all on board. 
The empty boats came back at once and were 
filled again in no time. 

Seeing the helpless state in which Marcial was 
lying I turned, half-choked with tears, to some 
sailors and implored them to pick him up and 
carry him to a boat ; but it was as much as they 
could do to save themselves. In my desperation 
I tried to lift him and drag him to the ship's side, 
but my small strength was hardly enough to raise 
his helpless arms. I ran about the deck, seeking 
some charitable soul ; and some seemed on the 
point of yielding to my entreaties, but their own 
pressing danger choked their kind impulses. To 
understand such cold-blooded cruelty you must 
have gone through such a scene of horror; every 


feeling of humanity vanishes before the stronger 
instinct of self-preservation which becomes a per- 
fect possession, and sometimes reduces man to the 
level of a wild beast. 

" Oh the wretches ! they will do nothing to 
save you, Marcial," I cried in bitter anguish. 

" Let them be," he said. " They are the same 
at sea as on shore. But you child, be off, run, or 
they will leave you behind." I do not know 
which seemed to me the most horrible alternative 
— to remain on board with the certainty of death, 
or to go and leave the miserable man alone. At 
length, however, natural instinct proved the 
stronger and I took a few steps towards the ship's 
side ; but I turned back to embrace the poor old 
man once more and then I ran as fast as I could 
to the spot where the last men were getting into 
the boat. There were but four, and when I 
reached the spot I saw that all four had jumped 
into the sea and were swimming to meet the boat 
which was still a few yards distant. 

"Take me !" I shrieked, seeing that they were 
leaving me behind. " I am coming too ! — Take 
me too !" 

I shouted with all my strength but they either 
did not hear or did not heed me. Dark as it was, 
I could make out the boat and even knew when 



they were getting into it, though I could hardly 
say that I saw them. T v/as on the point of fling- 
ing myself overboard to take my chance of reach- 
ing the boat when, at that very moment, it had 
vanished — there was nothing to be seen but the 
black waste of waters. Every hope of escape had 
vanished with it. I looked round in despair — 
nothing was visible but the waves preying on 
what was left of the ship ; not a star in the sky, 
not a spark on shore — the sloop had sailed away. 

Beneath my feet, which I stamped with rage 
and anguish, the hull of the Rayo was going to 
pieces, nothing remained indeed but the bows, and 
the deck was covered with wreck ; I was actually 
standing on a sort of raft which threatened every 
moment to float away at the mercy of the waves. 

I flew back to Marcial. " They have left me, 
they have left us !" I cried. The old man sat up 
^ith great difficulty, leaning on one hand and his 
dim eyes scanned the scene and the darkness 
around us. 

" Nothing . . ." he said. " Nothing to be seen ; 
no boats, no land, no lights, no beach. — They are 
not coming back !" 

As he spoke a tremendous crash was heard 
beneath our feet in the depths of the hold under 
the bows, long since full of water ; the deck gave 


a great lurch and we were obliged to clutch at a 
capstan to save ourselves from falling into the sea. 
We could not stand up ; the last remains of the 
Rayo were on the point of being engulfed. Still, 
hope never forsakes us ; and I, at any rate, con- 
soled myself with the belief that things might re- 
main as they were now till day-break and with 
observing that the fore- mast had not yet gone 
overboard. I looked up at the tall mast, round 
which some tatters of sails and ends of ropes still 
flapped in the wind, and which stood like a dis- 
hevelled giant pointing heavenward and imploring 
mercy with the persistency of despair ; and I fully 
determined that if the rest of the hull sank under 
water I would climb it for a chance of life. 

Marcial laid himself down on the deck. 

"There is no hope, Gabrielillo," he said. 
** They have no idea of coming back, nor could 
they if they tried in such a sea. Well, since it is 
God's will, we must both die where we are. For 
me, it matters not ; I am an old man, and of no 
use for any earthly thing. — But you, you are a 
mere child and you . . ." But here his voice broke 
with emotion. "You," he went on, "have no 
sins to answer for, you are but a child. But I . . . 
Still, when a man dies like this — what shall I say 
— like a dog or a cat — there is no need, I have 


heard, for the priest to give him absolution — all 
that is needed is that he should make his peace 
himself with God. Have you not heard that 
said ?" 

I do not know what answer I made ; I believe 
I said nothing, but only cried miserably. 

" Keep your heart up, Gabrielillo," he went 
on. " A man must be a man, and it is at a time 
like this that you get to know the stuff you are 
made of You have no sins to answer for, but I 
have. They say that when a man is dying and 
there is no priest for him to confess to, he ought 
to tell whatever he has on his conscience to any 
one who will listen to him. Well, I will confess 
to you Gabrielillo ; I will tell you all my sins, and 
I expect God will hear me through you and then 
he will forgive me." 

Dumb with terror and awe at the solemnity of 
his address, I threw my arms round the old man 
who Avent on speaking. 

" Well, I say, I have always been a Christian, 
a Catholic, Apostolic Roman; and that I always 
was and still am devoted to the Holy Virgin del 
Carmen, to whom I pray for help at this very 
minute ; and I say too that though for twenty 
years I have never been to confession nor received 
the sacrament, it has not been my fault, but that 


of this cursed service, and because one always puts 
it off from one Sunday to the next. But it is a 
trouble to me now that I failed to do it, and I 
declare and swear that I pray God and the Virgin 
and all the Saints to punish me if it was my fault ; 
for this )'ear, if I have never been to confession or 
communion, it was all because of those cursed 
English that forced me to go to sea again just 
when I really meant to make it up with the 
Church. I never stole so much as a pin's head, 
and I never told a lie, except for the fun of it now 
and then. I repent of the thrashings I gave my 
wife thirty years ago — though I think she rightly 
deserved them, for her temper was more venom- 
ous than a scorpion's sting. I never failed to 
obey the captain's order in the least thing ; I hate 
no one on earth but the 'great-coats,' and I should 
have liked to see them made mince-meat of 
However, they say we are all the children of the 
same God, so I forgive them, and I forgive the 
French who brought us into this war. I will say 
no more, for I believe I am going — full sail. I 
love God and my mind is easy. Gabriel hold me 
tight and stick close to me ; you have no sins to 
answer for, you will go straight away to Heaven 
to pipe tunes with the angels. Ah well, it is 
better to die so, at your age, than to stay below in 


this wicked world. Keep up your courage, boy, 
till the end. The sea is rising and the Rayo will 
soon be gone. Death by drowning is an easy 
one ; do not be frightened — stick close to me. 
In less than no time we shall be out of it all ; I 
answering to God for all my shortcomings, and 
you as happy as a fairy, dancing through the 
star-paved heavens — and they tell us happiness 
never comes to an end up there because it is 
eternal, or, as they say, to-morrow and to-morrow 
and to-morrow, world without end . . . ." 

He could say no more. I clung passionately 
to the poor mutilated body. A tremendous sea 
swept over the bows and I felt the water dash 
against my shoulder. I shut my^eyes and fixed 
my thoughts on God. Then I lost consciousness 
and knew no more. 



When, I know not how long after, the idea of 
life dawned once more on my darkened spirit, I 
was conscious only of being miserably cold ; in- 
deed, this was the only fact that made me aware 
of my own existence, for I remembered nothing 
whatever of all that had happened and had not the 
slightest idea of where I was. When my mind 
began to get clearer and my senses recovered their 
functions I found that I was lying on the beach ; 
some men were standing round me and watching 
me with interest. The first thing I heard was : 
" Poor little fellow ! — he is coming round." 

By degrees I recovered my wits and, with 
them, my recollection of past events. My first 
thought was for Marcial, and I believe that the 
first words I spoke were an enquiry for him. But 
no one could tell me anything about him ; I 
recognized some of the crew of the Rayo among 
the men on the beach and asked them where he 
was ; they were all agreed that he must have 
perished. Then I wanted to know how I had 
been saved, but they would tell me nothing about 


that either. They gave me some Hquor to drink, 
I know not what, and carried me to a neighboring 
hut, where, warmed by a good fire and cared for 
by an old woman, I soon felt quite well, though 
still rather weak. Meanwhile I learnt that another 
cutter had put out to reconnoitre the wreck of the 
Rayo and that of a French ship which had met 
with the same fate, and that they had picked me 
up still clinging to Marcial ; they found that I 
could be saved but my companion was dead. I 
learnt too that a number of poor wretches had 
been drowned in trying to reach the coast. Then 
I wanted to know what had become of Malespina, 
but no one knew anything either of him or of his 
father. I enquired about the Santa Ana which, 
it appeared, had reached Cadiz in safet}^, so I de- 
termined to set out forthwith to join my master. 
We were at some distance from Cadiz, on the 
coast to the north of the Guadalquivir, I wanted 
therefore to start at once to make so long a jour- 
ney. I took two days' rest to recover my 
strength, and then set out for Sanliicar, in the 
company of a sailor who was going the same way. 
We crossed the river on the morning of the 27th 
and then continued our walk, keeping along the 
coast. As my companion was a jolly, friendly 
fellow the journey was as pleasant as I could ex- 


pect in the frame of mind I was in, grieved at 
Marcial's death and depressed by the scenes I had 
so lately witnessed. As we walked on we dis- 
cussed the battle and the shipwrecks that had 

"A very good sailor was that old cripple," 
said my companion. " But what possessed him 
to go to sea again with more than sixty years on 
his shoulders ? It served him right to come to a 
bad end." 

" He was a brave seaman," said I, " and had 
such a passion for fighting that even his infirmi- 
ties could not keep him quiet when he had made 
up his mind to join the fleet." 

" Well, I have had enough of it for my part," 
said the sailor. " I do not want to see any more 
fighting at sea. The King pays us badly, and 
then, if you are maimed or crippled — good-bye 
to you — I know nothing about you — I never set 
eyes on you in my life. — Perhaps you don't be- 
lieve me when I tell you the King pays his men so 
badly ? But I can tell you this : most of the 
officers in command of the ships that went into 
action on the 21st had seen no pay for months. 
Only last year there was a navy captain at Cadiz 
who went as waiter in an inn because he had no 
other way of keeping himself or his children. His 


friends found him out though he tried to conceal 
his misery, and they succeeded at last in getting 
him out of his degrading position. Such things 
do not happen in any other country in the world ; 
and then we are horrified at finding ourselves 
beaten by the English ! As to the arsenals, I will 
say nothing about them ; they are empty and it is 
of no use to hope for money from Madrid — not 
a aiarto comes this way. All the King's revenues 
are spent in paying the court officials, and chief 
among them the Prince of Peace; who gets 40,000 
dollars as Counsellor of the Realm, Secretary of 
State, Captain- General, and Sergeant- Major of 
the Guards. — No, say I, I have had enough of 
serving the King. I am going home to my wife 
and children, for I have served my time and in a 
few days they must give me my papers." 

" But you have nothing to complain of friend," 
said I, " since you were on board the Rayo which 
hardly did any fighting." 

" I was not in the Rayo but in the Bahamay 
one of the ships that fought hardest and longest." 

" She was taken and her captain killed, if I 
remember rightly." 

" Aye, so it was," he said. " I could cry over 
it when I think of him — Don Dionisio Alcala 
Gahano, the bravest seaman in the fleet. Well, 


he was a stern commander ; he never overlooked 
the smallest fault, and yet his very severity made 
us love him all the more, for a captain who is 
feared for his severity — if his severity is unfail- 
ingly just — inspires respect and wins the affection 
of his men. I can honestly say that a more noble 
and generous gentleman than Don Dionisio Alcala 
Galiano was never born. And when he wanted 
to do a civility to his friends he did not do it by 
halves ; once, out in Havana he spent ten thou- 
sand dollars on a supper he gave on board ship."^ 
" He was a first-rate seaman too, I have heard." 
" Ah, that he was. And he was more learned 
than Merlin and all the Fathers of the Church. 
He made no end of maps, and discovered Lord 
knows how many countries out there, where it 
is as hot as hell itself! And then they send men 
like these out to fight and to be killed like a parcel 
of cabin-boys. I will just tell you what happened 
on board the Bahavia. As soon as the fighting be- 
gan Don Dionisio Alcala Galiano knew we must be 
beaten on account of that infernal trick of turn- 
ing the ships round — we were in the reserve and 
had been in the rear. Nelson, who was certainly 
no fool, looked along our line, and he said : ' If we 
cut them through at two separate points, and keep 
them between two fires, hardly a ship will escape 


me.' And so he did, blast him; and as our 
hne was so long the head could never help the tail. 
He fought us in detachments, attacking us in two 
wedge-shaped columns which, as I have heard say, 
were the tactics adopted by the great Moorish 
general, Alexander the Great, and now used by 
Napoleon. It is very certain, at any rate, that 
they got round us and cut us in three, and fought 
us ship to ship in such a manner that we could not 
support or help each other ; every Spaniard had to 
deal with three or four Englishmen. 

" Well, so you see the Bahama was one of the 
first to be under fire. Galiano reviewed the crew 
at noon, went round the gun-decks, and made us 
a speech in which he said : ' Gentlemen, you all 
know that our flag is nailed to the mast.' Yes, we 
all knew the sort of man our Captain was, and we 
were not at all surprised to hear it. Then he turned 
to the captain of the marines, Don Alonso Butron, 
'I charge you to defend it,' he said. * No Galiano 
ever surrenders and no Butron should either.' 

" ' What a pity it is,' said I, ' that such men 
should not have had a leader worthy of such cour- 
age, since they could not themselves conduct the 

" Aye, it is a pity, and you shall hear what 
happened. The battle began, and you know some- 


thing of what it was like if you were on board the 
Trinidad. The ships riddled us with broadsides 
to port and starboard. The wounded fell like flies 
from the very first, and the captain first had a 
bad bruise on his foot and then a splinter struck 
his head and hurt him badly. But do you think 
he Avould give in, or submit to be plastered with 
ointment ? Not a bit of it ; he staid on the quar- 
ter-deck, just as if nothing had happened, though 
many a man he loved truly fell close to him never 
to stand up again. Alcala Galiano gave his orders 
and directed his guns as if we had been firing a 
salute at a review. A spent ball knocked his tele- 
scope out of his hand and that made him laugh. 
I fancy I can see him now ; the blood from his 
wound stained his uniform and his hands and he 
cared no more than if it had been drops of salt- 
water splashed up from the sea. He was a man of 
great spirit and a hasty temper; he shouted out 
his orders so positively that if we had not obeyed 
them because it was our duty, we should have done 
so out of sheer alarm. — But suddenly it was all 
over with him. — He was struck in the head by a 
shot and instantly killed. 

" The fight was not at an end, but all our heart 
in it was gone. When our beloved captain fell the 
officers covered his body that we men might not 


see it, but we all knew at once what had happened, 
and after a short and desperate struggle for the 
honor of our flag, the Bahama surrendered to the 
English who carried her off to Gibraltar if she did 
not go to the bottom on the way, as I rather sus- 
pect she did." 

After giving this history and telling me how 
he had been transferred from the Bahama to the 
Santa Ana, my companion sighed deeply and was 
silent for some time. However, as the way was 
long and dull I tried to reopen the conversation 
and I began telling him what I myself had seen, and 
how I had at last been put on board the Rayo with 
young Malespina. 

"Ah!" said he. "Was he a young artillery 
officer who was transferred to the sloop to be taken 
to shore on the night of the 23d ?" 

" The very same," said I. "But no one has 
been able to tell me for certain what became of 

" He was one of a party in the second boat 
which could not get to shore ; some of those who 
were whole and strong contrived to escape, and 
among them that young officer's father ; but all the 
wounded were drowned, as you may easily sup- 
pose, as the poor souls of course could not swim to 


I was shocked to hear of Don Rafael's death, 
and the thought of the grief it would be to my 
hapless and adored little mistress quite overcame 
me, choking every mean and jealous feeling. 

"What a dreadful thing !" I exclaimed. " And 
is it my misfortune to have to carry the news to 
his sorrowing friends ? But, tell me, are you cer- 
tain of the facts ?" 

" I saw his father with my own eyes, lamenting 
bitterly and telling all the details of the catastro- 
phe with such distress it was enough to break 
your heart. From what he said he seemed to 
have saved everybody on board the boat, and he 
declared that if he had saved his son it would have 
been at the cost of the lives of all the others, so 
he chose, on the whole, to preserve the lives of the 
greatest number, even in sacrificing that of his son, 
and he did so. He must be a singularly humane 
man, and wonderfully brave and dexterous." But 
I was so deeply distressed that I could not discuss 
the subject. Marcial dead, Malespina dead ! What 
terrible news to take home to my master's house. 
For a moment my mind was almost made up not 
to return to Cadiz ; I would leave it to chance or to 
public rumor to carry the report to the sad hearts 
that were waiting in such painful suspense. How- 
ever, I was bound to present myself before Don 


Alonso and give him some account of my pro- 

At length we reached Rota and there embarked 
for Cadiz. It is impossible to describe the com- 
motion produced by the report of the disaster to 
our fleet. News of the details had come in by de- 
grees, and by this time the fate of most of our 
ships was known, though what had become of 
many men and even whole crews had not been as- 
certained. The streets were full of distressing 
scenes at every turn, where some one who had 
come off scot-free stood telling off the deaths he 
knew of, and the names of those who would be 
seen no more. The populace crowded down to the 
quays to see the wounded as they came on shore, 
hoping to recognize a father, husband, son or 
brother. There were episodes of frantic joy min- 
gled with shrieks of dismay and bitter cries of dis- 
appointment. Too often were hopes deceived and 
fears confirmed, and the losers in this fearful lottery 
were far more numerous than the winners. The 
bodies thrown up on the shore put an end to the 
suspense of many families, while others still hoped 
to find those they had lost among the prisoners 
taken to Gibraltar. 

To the honor of Cadiz be it said never did a 
community devote itself with greater willingness 


to the care of the wounded, making no distinctions 
between friends and foes but hoisting the standard, 
as it were, of universal and comprehensive charity. 
ColHngwood, in his narrative, does justice to this 
generosity" on the part of my fellow-countrymen. 
The magnitude of the disaster had deadened all 
resentment, but is it not sad to reflect that it is only 
in misfortune that men are truly brothers? 

In Cadiz I saw collected in the harbor the 
whole results of the conflict which previously, as 
an actor in it, I had only partially understood, 
since the length of the line and the manoeuvring 
of the vessels would not allow me to see every- 
thing that happened. As I now learnt — besides 
the Trinidad — \\iQ Argonauta, 92 guns, Captain 
Don Antonio Pareja, and the San Atigtistin, 80 
guns, Don Felipe Cagigal, had been sunk. Gravina 
had got back into Cadiz with the Principe de As- 
turias, as well as the Montanes, 80 guns, com- 
manded byAlcedo, whowith his second officer Cas- 
tafios, had been killed ; the San Justo, ^6 guns. 
Captain Don Miguel Gaston ; the Sa7t Leandro, 
74, Captain Don Jose Quevedo ; the San Frati- 
cisco, 74, Don Luis Flores ; and the Rayo, 100, 
commanded by Macdonell. Four of these had 
gone out again on the 23d to recapture the vessels 
making for Gibraltar ; and of these, two, the Sa7i 



Francisco and the Rayo were wrecked on the coast. 
So, too, was the Alonarca, 74 guns, under Argu- 
mosa, and the Ncptuiio, 80 guns ; and her heroic 
commander, Don Cayetano Valdes, who had pre- 
viously distinguished himself at Cape St. Vincent, 
narrowly escaped with his life. The Bahama 
had surrendered but went to pieces before she 
could be got into Gibraltar ; the San Ildefonso, 74 
guns. Captain Vargas, was taken to England, 
while the San Jnan Ncpomnccno was left for many 
years at Gibraltar, where she was regarded as an 
object of veneration and curiosity. The Santa 
Ana had come safely into Cadiz the very night we 
were taken off her. 

The English too lost some fine ships, and not 
a few of their gallant officei's shared Nelson's 
glorious fate. 

With regard to the French it need not be said 
that they had suffered as severely as we had. With 
the exception of the four ships that withdrew un- 
der Dumanoir without showing fight — a stain 
which the Imperial navy could not for a long time 
wipe out — our allies behaved splendidly. Ville- 
neuve, only caring to efface in one day the re- 
membrance of all his mistakes, fought desperately 
to the last and was carried off a prisoner to Gibraltar. 
Many of their officers were taken with him, and 


very many were killed. Their vessels shared all 
our risks and dangers ; some got off with Gravina, 
some were taken and several were wrecked on the 
coast. T\\Q Achille blew up, as I have said, in the 
midst of the action. 

But in spite- of all these disasters, Spain had 
paid dearer for the war than her haughty ally. 
France had lost the flower of her navy indeed, but 
at that very time Napoleon had won a glorious 
victory on land. His army had marched with 
wonderful rapidity from the shores of the English 
Channel across Europe, and was carrying out his 
colossal schemes in the campaign against Austria. 
It was on the 20th of October, the day before 
Trafalgar, that Napoleon, at the camp at Ulm, 
looked on as the Austrian troops marched past, 
while their officers delivered up their swords ; only 
two months later, on the 2d of December, he 
won, on the field of Austerlitz, the greatest of his 
many victories. 

These triumphs consoled France for the de- 
feat of Trafalgar ; Napoleon silenced the news- 
papers, forbidding them to discuss the matter ; 
and when the victory of his implacable enemies, 
the English, was reported to him he simply 
shrugged his shoulders and said : " I cannot be 
everywhere at once." 

16 * 



I POSTPONED the fatal hour when I must 
face my master as long as possible, but at last my 
destitute condition, without money and without a 
home, brought me to the point. As I went to 
the house of Dona Flora my heart beat so vio- 
lently that I had to stop for breath at every step. 
The terrible shock I was about to give the family 
by announcing young Malespina's death weighed 
so terribly on my soul that I could not have felt 
more crushed and guilty if I had myself been the 
occasion of it. At last however, I went in. My 
presence in the court-yard caused an immense 
sensation. I heard heavy steps hurrying along 
the upper galleries and I had not been able to 
speak a word before I felt myself in a close em- 
brace. I at once recognized Dona Flora, with 
more paint on her face than if it had been a pic- 
ture, but seriously discomposed in effect by the 
good old soul's delight at seeing me once more. 
But all the fond names she lavished on me — her 
dear boy, her pet, her little angel — could not 
make me smile. I went up stairs, every one was 


in a bustle of excitement. I heard my master 
exclaim : " Oh ! thank God ! he is safe." I went 
into the drawing-room, and there it was Doiia 
Francisca who came forward, asking with mortal 
anxiety — "And Don Rafael? — Where is Don 
Rafael ?" 

But for some minutes I could not speak ; my 
voice failed me, I had not courage to tell the fatal 
news. They questioned me eagerly and I saw 
Doiia Rosita come in from an adjoining room, 
pale, heavy-eyed, and altered by the anguish she 
had gone through. At the sight of my young 
mistress I burst into tears, and there was then no 
need for words. Rosita gave a terrible cry and 
fell senseless ; her father and mother flew to her 
side, smothering their own grief, while Dofia 
Flora melted into tears and took me aside to as- 
sure herself that I, at any rate, had returned 
whole in every part. 

"Tell m.e," she said, "how did he come b)' 
his death ? I felt sure of it — I told Paca so ; 
but she would only say her prayers and believed 
that so she could save him. As if God could be 
troubled with such matters. — And you are safe 
and sound — what a comfort ! No damage 
anywhere ?" 

It is impossible to describe the consternation 


of the whole household. For a quarter of an 
hour nothing was to be heard but crying, lamen- 
tation, and sobbing ; for Malespina's mother had 
come to Cadiz and was also in the house. But 
how mysterious are the ways of Providence in 
working out its ends ! About a quarter of an 
hour, as I say, had elapsed since I had told them 
the news when a loud assertive voice fell on my 
ear. It was that of Don Jose Maria, shouting in 
the court-yard, calling his wife, Don Alonso, and 
Rosita. That which first struck mc was that his 
tones seemed just as strident and cheerful as ever, 
which I thought very indecorous after the mis- 
fortune that had happened. We all ran to meet 
him, and I stared to see him radiant and smiling. 

" But poor Don Rafael ..." said my master. 

" Safe and sound," replied Don Jose. " That 
is to say not exactly sound, but out of danger, for 
his wound is nothing to be anxious about. The 
fool of a surgeon said he would die, but I knew 
better. What do I care for surgeons ! I cured 
him, gentlemen — I, I myself, by a new treatment 
which no one knows of but myself" 

These words, which so suddenly and com- 
pletely altered the aspect of affairs, astounded the 
audience. The greatest joy took the place of 
grief and dismay ; and to wind up, as soon as 


their agitation allowed them to think of the de- 
lusion they had suffered under, they scolded me 
soundly for the fright I had given them. I ex- 
cused myself by saying that I had only repeated 
the tale as it was told to me, and Don Jose flew into 
a great rage, calling me a rascal, an imposter, and 
a busybody. 

It was happily true that Don Rafael was alive 
and out of danger ; he had remained with some 
friends at Sanlucar while his father had come to 
Cadiz to fetch his mother to see him. My readers 
will hardly believe in the origin of the mistake 
which had led me to announce the young man's 
death in such perfect good faith ; though a few 
may have been led to suspect that some tremen- 
dous fib of the old man's must have given rise to 
the report that reached me. And so it was, 
neither more nor less. I heard all about it at 
Sanlucar whither I went with the family. Don 
Jose Maria had invented a whole romance of de- 
votion and skill on his own part, and had related 
more than once the history of his son's death, in- 
venting so many dramatic details that for a few 
days he figured as a hero, and had been the ob- 
ject of universal admiration for his humanity and 
courage. His story was that the boat had upset, 
and that as the choice lay between rescuing his 


son and saving all the others he had chosen the 
latter alternative as the most magnanimous and 
philanthropical. This romance he dressed up in 
so many interesting, and at the same time prob- 
able circumstances that it could not fail to be be- 
lieved. The falsehood was of course very soon 
found out, and his success was of brief duration, 
but not before the story had comiC to my ears and 
put me under the necessity of reporting it to the 
family. Though I knew very well how absolutely 
mendacious old Malespina could be, I had never 
dreamed of his lying about so serious a matter. 

When all this excitement was over my master 
sank into deep melancholy ; he would scarcely 
speak and seemed as though his soul, having no 
illusions left, had closed accounts with the world 
and was only waiting to take its departure. The 
absence of Marcial Avas to him the loss of the only 
companion of his childish old age ; he had no one 
now to fight mimic battles with, and he gave him- 
self up to dull sorrow. Nor did Doiia Francisca 
spare him any drop of mortification, seeing him in 
this crest-fallen state. I heard her the same day 
saying spitefully : 


" A pretty mess you have made of it ! What 
do you think of yourself now ? Now are you 
satisfied ? Go, oh go by all means and join the 
fleet ! Was I right or was I wrong ? If you 
would only have listened to me. But you have 
had a lesson I hope; you see now how God has 
punished you." 

"Woman, leave me in peace," said my master 

" And now we are left without any fleet at all, 
and without sailors, and we shall soon find our- 
selves ruined out of hand if we keep up our alli- 
ance with the French. — Please God those gentry 
may not paj- us out for their misfortunes. Seiior 
Villeneuve ! — he has covered himself with glory 
indeed ! And Gravina again ! If he had opposed 
the scheme of taking the fleet out, as Churruca 
and Alcala Galiano did, he might have prevented 
this heartbreaking catastrophe." 

"Woman, woman — what do you know about 
it? Do not annoy me," said Don Alonso quite 

" What do I know about it ? More than you 
do. Yes — I repeat it : Gravina may be a worthy 
gentleman and as brave as you please ; but in this 
case, much good he has done !" 


" He did his duty. You would have Hked us 
all to be set down as cowards, I suppose ?" 

"Cowards, no — but prudent. It is as I say 
and repeat : the fleet ought never to have gone 
out of Cadiz just to humor the whims and conceit 
of Villeneuve. 

" Every one here knew that Gravina, like the 
others, was of opinion that it ought to stop in the 
bay. But Villeneuve had made up his mind to it, 
intending to hit a blow that might restore him to 
his master's favor, and he worked on our Spanish 
pride. It seems that one of the reasons Gravina gave 
was the badness of the weather, and that he said, 
looking at the barometer in the cabin : ' Do you 
not see that the barometer foretells foul weather ? 
Do you not see how it has gone down ?' And 
then Villeneuve said drily : ' What is gone down 
here is courage !' At such an insult Gravina stood 
up, blind with rage, and threw the French Ad- 
miral's own conduct at Finisterre in his teeth. 
Some angry words were spoken on both sides and 
at last our Admiral exclaimed : ' To sea then to- 
morrow morning.' 

" But I say that Gravina ought to have taken 
no notice of Villeneuve's insolence — none what- 
ever ; that prudence is an officer's first duty, and 
particularly when he knew — as we all knew — 


that the fleet was not in a condition to fight the 

This view, which at the time seemed to me an 
insult to our national honor, I understood later was 
well-founded. Dona Francisca was right. Gravina 
ought not to have given way to Villeneuve's ob- 
stinacy, and I say it almost dims the halo of pres- 
tige with which the popular voice crowned the 
leader of the Spanish forces on that disastrous oc- 
casion. Without denying Gravina's many merits, 
in my opinion there was much exaggeration in the 
high-flown praises that were lavished upon him, 
both after the battle, and again when he died of his 
wounds a few months later.* Everything he did 
proved him to be an accomplished gentleman and 
a brave sailor, but he was perhaps too much of a 
courtier to show the determination which com- 
monly comes of long experience in war ; he was 
deficient too in that complete superiority which, in 
so learned a profession as the Navy, can only be 
acquired by assiduous study of the sciences on 
which it relies. Gravina was a good commander 
of a division under superior orders, but nothing 
more. The foresight, coolness, and immovable 
determination, which are indispensable elements 
in the man whose fortune it is to wield such 

* March, 1806. 


mighty forces, he had not ; Don Cosme Damian 
Churruca had — and Don Dionisio Alcala Galiano. 

My master made no reply to Dona Francisca's 
last speech and when she left the room I observed 
that he was praying- as fervently as when I had 
left him in the cabin of the Santa Atia. Indeed, 
from that day Don Alonso did nothing else but 
pray ; he prayed incessantly till the day came 
when he had to sail in the ship that never comes 

He did not die till some time after his daugh- 
ter's marriage with Don Rafael Malespina, an 
event which took place two months after the ac- 
tion which the Spanish know as "the 21st," and 
the English as the battle of Trafalgar. My young 
mistress was married one lovely morning, though 
it was winter time, and set out at once for Medina- 
Sidonia where a house was ready and waiting for 
the young couple. I might look on at her happi- 
ness during the days preceding the wedding but 
she did not observe the melancholy that I was suf- 
fering under ; nor, if she had, would she have 
guessed the cause. She thought more of herself 
every day, as I could see, and I felt more and 
more humiliated by her beauty and her superior 
position in life. But I had taught myself to un- 
derstand that such a sweet vision of all the graces 


could never be mine, and this kept me calm ; for 
resignation — honest renunciation of all hope — is 
a real consolation, though it is a consolation akin 
to death. 

Well, they were married, and the very day they 
had left us for Medina- Sidonia Dona Francisca 
told me that I was to follow them and enter their 
service. I set out that night, and during my soli- 
tary journey I tried to fight down my thoughts 
and my feelings which wavered between accepting 
a place in the house of the bridegroom or flying 
from them forever. I arrived very early in the 
morning and found out the house. I went into the 
garden but on the bottom step I stopped, for my 
reflections absorbed all my energies, and I had to 
stand still to think more clearly ; I must have stood 
there for more than half an hour. 

Perfect silence prevailed. The young couple 
were sleeping untroubled by a care or a sorrow. I 
could not help recalling that far-off time when my 
young mistress and I had played together. To me 
she had then been my first and only thought. To 
her, though I had not been the first in her affec- 
tions, I had been something she loved and that she 
missed if we were apart for an hour. In so short a 
time how great a change ! 

I looked round me and all I saw seemed to 


symbolize the happiness of the lovers and to mock 
my forlorn fate. Although it was winter time, 
I could picture the trees in full leaf, and the porch 
in front of the door seemed suddenly overgrown 
with creepers to shade them when the_, should 
come out. The sun was warmer, the air blew 
softer round this nest for which I myself had car- 
ried the first straws when I served as the messen- 
ger of their loves. I seemed to see the bare rose- 
bushes covered with roses, the orange-trees with 
blossoms and fruit pecked by crowds of birds thus 
sharing in the wedding feast. My dreams and re- 
flections were at last interrupted by a fresh young 
voice breaking the silence of the place and which 
made me tremble from head to foot as I heard it. 
It thrilled me with an indescribable sensation, that 
clear, happy, happy voice — whether of fear or 
shame I can hardly say ; all I am sure of is that a 
sudden impulse made me turn from the door, and 
fly from the spot like a thief afraid of being 

My mind was made up. I quitted Medina- 
Sidonia forthwith, quite determined never to be a 
servant in that house, nor to return to Vejer. 
After a few minutes reflection I set out for Cadiz 
intending to get from thence to Madrid ; and this 
was what I ultimately did, in spite of the persua- 


sions of Dona Flora who tried to chain me to her 
side with a wreath of the faded flowers of her af- 
fection ! 

But since that day how much I have gone 
through , how much I have seen, well worthy of 
record. My fate, which had taken me to Trafalgar, 
led me subsequently through many glorious and 
inglorious scenes, all in their way worth remem- 
bering. If the reader cares to hear the story of my 
life I will tell him more about it at a future oppor-